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Online GP at Hand service threatens 'the very survival of NHS general practice,' warns Unite

AN ONLINE service that “threatens the very survival of NHS general practice as we know it” must be axed, Unite says.

The union has called on Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to scrap the model of care used by GP at Hand service.

Unite said that when patients register with GP at Hand, currently operating only in London, they are “deregistered” from their own surgery and funding for the practice is removed.

Doctors in Unite (DiU) chair David Wrigley said: “An increasing number of GPs are in open revolt at this online service that is seriously eroding the vital personal relationship between GP and patient.”

In a letter to Mr Hunt, signed by more than 130 health professionals, DiU said practices have seen their list sizes fall for the first time in years because of registrations.

The letter reads: “GP at Hand will destabilise other practices, robbing them of the vital risk pooling and cross subsidy which enables them to provide good care to their more complex and unwell patients.

“Losing registration fees for younger, fitter patients who join GP at Hand threatens the model of general practice relied on by so many patients.

“The scheme is hoovering up the younger, healthier patients and restricts access to those who are pregnant, frail, terminally ill or suffering from multiple health problems.”

DiU said that in practice, 70 per cent of all patients are reasonably well and their funding helps surgeries care for the 30 per cent who are sick.

“It’s a system that works, because it’s fair. We all eventually end up in the 30 per cent,” they added.

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