GP at Hand: Where have the new patients come from?BMJ 2018; 361 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.k2227 (Published 18 May 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;361:k2227
A new analysis has shown the extent to which patients from across London and beyond have registered with the GP at Hand digital appointment service.
The service, launched by the digital health company Babylon Health at a general practice in Hammersmith, west London, late last year,1 allows people living outside the Hammersmith and Fulham Clinical Commissioning Group’s catchment area to access virtual GP consultations 24 hours a day on their smartphones, if they deregister with their existing practice.
It has attracted almost 20 000 new patients to the practice since launching in November 2017. At the start of April the practice had almost 24 000 registered patients, up from just under 5000 in November.
An analysis of the practice’s inflated patient list by Londonwide Local Medical Committees shows that less than a sixth of these patients (3413 of 23 997 (14%)) live in the borough of Hammersmith and Fulham (fig 1).
The other London boroughs with the highest numbers of patients registered at GP at Hand are Lambeth, Tower Hamlets, and Southwark (box 1).
GP at Hand registrations by patients’ home borough (as at 1 April 2018)
Hammersmith and Fulham: 3413*
Tower Hamlets: 1369*
Other London boroughs: 8630
*Boroughs where GP at Hand has a physical location where patients can see a GP face to face
Some 3185 patients from outside London have also registered.
Hammersmith and Fulham CCG said that the popularity of GP at Hand had led to a 10% overall increase in its registered patient population,2 and it has requested £18m (€21m; $24m) in support from NHS England “to cover the GP at Hand accelerated costs.”3
Previously, GPs in other parts of London had warned that too many patients leaving their local practice to register with GP at Hand could destabilise local services for needy patients by “diverting funding into a service which cherry picks young healthy patients.”4 But GP at Hand has argued that its service reduces pressure on other NHS services and that people are exercising their right to choose their NHS general practice.