Online GP booking promised by 2015

Part of information and technology reforms to NHS

NHS patients will be able to book an appointment with their GP online by 2015, the Government has promised today.

Through information and technology reforms set out in a paper entitled The power of information, the Department of Health says it is making using the NHS easier for patients by providing online access to many of its most “frustrating” interactions.

By 2015, patients will be able to use the internet to book GP appointments, request repeat prescriptions, view test results and access their medical records.

The government says that in future it may also be possible to contact GP surgeries by email.

It says this means that routine GP tasks, such as issuing sick notes, will be a lot faster and easier.

Health secretary Andrew Lansley said: “The internet has revolutionised how people shop, bank and travel, and for too long health and care services have not been part of that revolution. Our strategy proposals will ensure that these services will become easier to understand, easier to access and will drive up standards of care.

“It’s time to make patient-power a reality and take the hassle out of using the health service.”

Mike Farrar, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said allowing patients greater online access to services is a positive step forward for the health service, and key to the success of the NHS reforms as a whole.

He said: “The NHS now has a real responsibility to deliver on these promises and make the NHS a truly modern health service.”

He added: "This strategy is key to the Government's reform programme, and if it does not succeed there is a real danger the reforms will fail.

“This programme will require significant investment, support and guidance with clear timelines and desired results. Otherwise we risk losing focus and having another strategy which fails to deliver for staff and patients.”

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