GP leaders are pressing for greater investment in practice IT to meet government targets for patients moving on-line.
The government has made improving on-line access to GPs a priority – and says that 10% of patients should be using internet-based services by next year.
But Royal College of GPs chair Dr Maureen Baker warned this would be “utterly unachievable” without extra money.
The college calls for £440 million to be invested in practice IT. The government has created a £4 billion fund to create a “paperless NHS” and the college says more than 10% of the funding should go to practices.
Dr Baker has set out her concerns in a letter to health secretary Jeremy Hunt.
In the letter she says: “Effective IT systems can enable the use of video or instant message consultations which improve access to family doctors and help continuity of care; help streamline the referrals process and avoid unnecessary errors; allow patients to book appointments more easily; and enable patients with long term conditions to monitor their own health.”
Calling for a substantial proportion of the IT fund to go to practices, she says: “It could help facilitate a step change in the level of use of virtual consultations.
“This would improve access to GP services and allow GPs to bring specialist expertise into appointments by setting up 3-way online consultations with specialists, avoiding unnecessary referrals.”