GP online appointments and remote GP access

Most working people would generally accept that securing an appointment with their family doctor which dovetails effectively with their working hours and/or duties can be rather difficult.  

To evidence this assertion, The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has recently highlighted that in 2015/16 there were 69 million occasions when patients had to wait longer than a week to see a GP. The situation is unlikely to improve anytime soon given the continuing financial and staffing pressures on the NHS. And the RCGP indicate that the figure quoted above is set to increase to 98 million by 2020/21. This situation is clearly bad news for employees, and also by extension employers given the delays in diagnosis and treatment for their workers (and the resulting damage to productivity).

This issue is one that a good employee benefits package can help resolve. Increasingly there are cost-effective solutions available to help employees access a GP both quickly and at a convenient time. Such services are provided remotely and can be accessed via smartphones, computers, or even the good old fashioned telephone. The actual services available vary depending on the insurer and package selected, but all promise swift access to a qualified GP to discuss symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.

So do employers believe that offering such an option will be a useful addition to their benefits offering?  We asked employers the following questions* at the end of 2017:    

Do you think offering your employees remote GP access would be beneficial for your employees?

  • Yes: 84.46%
  • No: 6.74%
  • Don’t know: 8.81%

Total number of employer responses: 193

Do you think offering your employees remote GP access would be beneficial for your business?

  • Yes: 78.53%
  • No:   8.38%
  • Don’t know: 13.09%

Total number of employer responses: 191

These responses suggest that the vast majority of employers can see the value in such an offering from both an employer and employee perspective. Yet the sad reality is that far fewer companies are, as yet, actively embracing this option:  

Do you currently offer your employees any support with regard to remote GP access?

  • Yes; we have a full offering for all staff: 13.90%
  • Yes; we offer remote GP access to some staff: 7.49%
  • No: 59.89%
  • Not yet; but we are actively considering: 11.23%
  • Don’t know: 7.49%

Total number of employer responses: 187

The above findings suggest that just over 1 in 5 employers currently offer remote GP access – a surprisingly low figure given the numbers that accept the benefits of this approach. We would therefore urge many more organisations to actively introduce and utilise such a service. For more information please speak to one of our local experts near you.

*Voting undertaken at the Jelf Employment Seminar at Trinity House, London on 23/11/17