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New app for general practice

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Pilot sites for a new app for the NHS have been announced by the health secretary

Pilot sites for a new app for the NHS have been announced by the health secretary at the NHS Expo in Manchester.

The new app will be trialled in Liverpool, Hastings, Bristol, Staffordshire and South Worcestershire.

The app will allow patients to book appointments, order repeat prescriptions and see medical files held by the general practice. They will also be able to sign up as organ donors, decide how their health data is used and get advice from the 111 service.

I like it,’ said health secretary Matt Hancock. ‘But more important than me liking it, the design has been led by user testing and user need. Research published by Roche here at Expo shows just how welcome the NHS app will be. More than half of 16-24 year olds asked, said they would actually prefer to receive GP advice online or via an app than face to face. We must respond to this change in expectations. This is just the beginning of the process. Patients who want to will feel the benefits of being able to access services through their fingertips, rather than needing to pick up the phone or physically walk into a GP surgery. It is a big step in making the NHS resemble the rest of the modern world around us.’

However, nurse practitioner Gavin Wollacott thinks the app may not be the silver bullet intended for practice nurses, with concern raised over difficulties in appointment times. He said ‘It’s a minefield. We do so much, and the length of each appointment varies.’

In addition to the app, new guidance has been issued by the government on ‘data-driven’ healthcare. A new code of conduct sets out how technology will be used in the NHS, particularly concerning artificial intelligence.

‘Artificial intelligence and machine learning is a field that is moving at lightning speed and has tremendous potential across the healthcare sector,’ said Lord O’Shaughnessy, the Lord’s Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Health.

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