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Published 14 April 2014
A pilot scheme to help give people increased access to their GPs has been dramatically extended.
More than seven million patients will now have access to evening and weekend surgery opening hours, and more options to book appointments or consult with a doctor are set to become available including email, health apps, web cam or Skype. The Challenge Fund pilot programme was originally expected to cover 500,000 patients.
Reacting to the news, Helen Simpson, health technology expert at the Bristol office of international law firm DAC Beachcroft, said: "Many GP surgeries have already embraced technology, including electronic check-in systems, for the benefit of their patients.
"Increasing channels by which people are able to book an appointment online or offering patients the chance to consult with doctors via Skype, will make GP services far more accessible.
"When you consider that generations of people have grown up utilising technology to communicate with providers of all types of services, from arranging banking transactions to making solicitors appointments to booking holidays quickly and easily, it is essential that patients are given the option to use technology to help them access health services in the same way.
"The extension of the pilot will hopefully help GP surgeries catch up to other health providers – like opticians - where booking an appointment online is often the norm."
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