E-consultations with GPs end up with four in ten going to see the doctor

Laura Donnelly
Four in ten patients ended up going to see their GP - Credit: Julian Claxton / Alamy Stock Photo

The number of family doctors has fallen by 1,200 in the last year, despite Government pledges to boost numbers by 5,000. And the average wait to see a GP is now 13 days – up from ten days in 2015. Ministers have also promised to improve access to doctors in evenings and weekends, with all patients able to see a GP between 8am and 8pm seven days a week by 2020.

But the research found that those turning to online consultations were most likely to do them during regular doctors hours, with just 12 per cent taking place at weekends.

Researcher Dr Jeremy Horwood said: “Our research shows that they need to be carefully implemented and effectively marketed to yield the benefits that politicians are hoping for.

“Online consultations may have value for some patients, such as straightforward medical enquiries, but they cannot replace face-to-face consultations in situations which are more complex.”