A new scheme has been launched which enables people to skip queues in GP surgeries and have an on-demand doctor visit them in their own home. Within 90 minutes. The only catch — it costs £120.
The new ‘private primary care’ service, developed by GP Delivered Quick (GPDQ), involves people ‘booking’ a doctor via a smartphone app. They select a date and time for them to visit. Each consultation lasts around 25 minutes and the doctors are on call seven days a week between 8am and 11pm.
But if you’re desperate to see a doctor, it’ll cost you. To book a 25-minute weekday consultation costs £120. For weekend visits, it’s £150. And for a bank holiday, £200!
The service, which has been approved by Care Quality Commission (the health regulator which Jeremy Hunt effectively controls), launched in London in 2015. It has now recently been rolled out across Birmingham.
The man behind the app
Dr Anshumen Bhagat is the North London GP behind the app. After working 15 years in the NHS and in private healthcare, Bhagat decided to launch the app to provide greater flexibility for patients. He said:
This is digitising the home visit – it really is that simple. Patients benefit from speed and flexibility, with the ability to see a doctor when and where it suits them, booking and tracking their GP through their smartphone. Our 25-minute appointments allow for a more in-depth consultation, whilst our two-hour prescription delivery service provides an extra level of convenience.
Regarding how GPs will benefit from the service, Bhagat continued:
It also enables all GPs in the UK to see patients on a private basis, work flexibly, and earn extra income in the process – they’re essentially running a virtual clinic through our state of the art mobile platform.
While the price of a consultation does include written prescriptions and referrals, the fact that this app prioritises those with money is troubling. £120, for example, is a lot of money. Especially for those on benefits and low incomes, and for children and elderly people. Also, London and Birmingham (where the service has been rolled out) have some of the highest levels of poverty in the UK. 27% of people in London and 37% of children in Birmingham live in poverty. Given this, it’s almost impossible for society’s most vulnerable to afford this service.
According to the app’s website, “every GPDQ doctor must meet our high standards of clinical experience and patient care”. As well as this, each doctor “continue[s] to work within the NHS”.
But with Hunt cutting NHS budgets left, right and centre, it questions whether the NHS will even exist in a couple years. The cuts have already forced many local practices to close, much to the delight of private healthcare services (like Virgin Care), which have been snapping them up.
So while the service secures a role for GPs if the NHS goes under, it does little to provide for those who depend on national heath care. The service, which has been approved under Hunt’s watch, gives us another indication of how the Health Secretary envisages future health care.
So far, it involves sucking the NHS dry, overexerting doctors, and shaking hands with billionaire privateers. Sadly, it’s the same tale. And we’re wondering how he’s still able to get away with it.
– Support the Save Our NHS campaign, and other NHS campaigns.
Featured image via Flickr
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?