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Patients are not using online services to book appointments and order repeat prescriptions due to little awareness of the services on offer and problems accessing digital services, according to Citizens Advice.
Analysis by the national charity of NHS England’s GP Patient Survey finds that, despite more than one in three patients (34%) wanting to book appointments online, just over one in 20 (6%) normally do so.
Since March 2015, all GP practices are required to offer online appointment bookings, repeat prescriptions and access to summary information held in patients’ records. However, at the time of the NHS Survey in January, GPs were already leading the way, with over 83% of GP practices offering online appointment booking.
In response Professor Nigel Mather, Honorary Secretary at the Royal College of GPs, said: “Our growing numbers of patients with multiple and chronic health conditions, will particularly benefit from online services such as being able to book and cancel appointments, order repeat prescriptions online and view a summary of the medical records.”
However, this new analysis highlights that more than half of patients (53%) aren’t aware of what online GP services are available at all, and just 27% of patients were aware of being able to book appointments online.
The lack of awareness is especially pronounced among young people, with 59% of 18-24 year olds not knowing what online GP services are available, despite almost half (45%) preferring online appointment booking.
“GPs and their teams have done their bit to make these services available, now we need policy-makers to make the public aware that they exist,” Mather added.