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More than 1 million Kent and Medway NHS patients can access new app offering online health service

More than a million NHS patients across Kent, including Medway, now have access to an online health service and free app to check symptoms and give guidance towards care.

Doctorlink has forged a partnership with clinical commissioning groups in the county to deliver on-the-spot medical advice which is available 24/7.

NHS patients will now be able to access an online health service through a free app. Picture: stock
NHS patients will now be able to access an online health service through a free app. Picture: stock

The high-tech platform, which has more than 10 million patients across England, aims to reduce clinical hours for doctors and cut the need for same-day appointments.

Practices using the service have seen up to a third of patients sign up and a drop of telephone triage of up to a third.

As well as Medway, West Kent CCG, Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley CCG and Swale CCGhave all signed up with Doctorlink.

Ruth Wells, West Kent CCG senior primary care development manager, said: “This is a digital improvement to the service already offered by your family doctor and surgery team – it’s not an alternative to being registered with a doctor.

“The service does not deliver a diagnosis, so it won’t tell you what’s wrong with you. It will assess – based on your symptoms, history and responses – what you need to do next, including requesting or directly booking an appointment with your GP practice.”

"I don’t think it will replace actually seeing a doctor face to face..."

In the Medway area, the majority of GP surgeries will begin using it between now and December. People will be notified when the service is live.

Ms Wells added: “We are excited to be bringing our patients increased efficiency and more choices on how they can access local health, from reduced telephone waiting times, to supporting our non-English speaking patients and those with disabilities.

“We are delighted to secure tools than can reduce the pressure on the amazing and dedicated clinicians in our region.

“The system is aimed at prioritising more time to focus on those who need the most care as well as easing the growing burden on frontline NHS services.

“Doctorlink asks a series ofquestions based on your symptoms and concerns and recommends the right action.

Strood doctor Julian Spinks thinks there will be pluses and minuses to the new app
Strood doctor Julian Spinks thinks there will be pluses and minuses to the new app

“If a medical consultation is suggested, the app will either help you to book this directly or your surgery will contact you to arrange a suitable time.”

UK Doctorlink managing director Keith Nurcombe said: “The decision reflects the positive impact Doctorlink has already had for thousands of GPs and millions of patients nationwide, and we are pleased to bring that transformation to the surgeries here.”

Strood GP Julian Spinks said the government had issued guidelines for online consultation to be in place by April 2020 and video consultation by 2021.

Dr Spinks said while he had not seen the Doctorlink system working first hand, he could see it had its “pluses and minuses”.

He said: “I don’t think it will replace actually seeing a doctor face to face, and there has to be a safety network.

“But it does help if a patient is told he needs urgent medical help rather than sit in a GP’s waiting room and then be told they need to get to hospital.”

Read more: All the latest news from Kent

Read more: All the latest news from Medway


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