Intended for healthcare professionals


General practice by smartphone

BMJ 2019; 366 doi: (Published 24 July 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;366:l4713
  1. Martin Roland, emeritus professor of health services research
  1. University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
  1. mr108{at}

GP at Hand risks destabilising care for patients with the greatest needs

Matt Hancock, the secretary of state for health, believes that embracing new technology is key to making the NHS the best healthcare system in the world.1 One company, Babylon, is testing this to the limits by establishing an NHS general practice in London, GP at Hand, where almost all initial contacts are through smartphone consultations: only if the problem cannot be sorted out on the phone do patients travel to one of five clinics in London for a face-to-face consultation.

For most patients, GP at Hand’s doctors are unable to visit at home or in nursing homes. Some fear that the new service will fatally undermine traditional general practice, leaving GPs with sick and complex patients to look after as …

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