The government wants NHS patients to make use of online services, but face-to-face meetings with doctors will remain an “essential part of care,” new Conservative health minister Anna Soubry has said.
“Over time, the use of digital and online technologies will simplify services for most of us, and will enable care professionals to focus more time on face-to-face care when it is really needed, reaching out to those who have the greatest need for support,” she said.
Soubry, responding to a parliamentary question from Redditch MP Karen Lumley, said one example of NHS services was the requirement for GPs to make appointment booking and cancellation electronic, along with the ordering of repeat prescriptions and access to patient records. All of this was to happen by 2015.
Ministers have recently offered funding to NHS bodies that come up with new digital services which can be applied across the health service.
Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said in June that services that could be delivered online “should be delivered only online” as part of the ‘digital by default’ agenda.