London to be Hit Hard by Surgery Closures

CEO and Founder of Now Healthcare Group, Lee Dentith, looks at the weekend’s worrying GP surgery news, with one in five practices in London expected to close down within the next three years.


Rising demand for appointments, doctor shortages and unmanageable workloads will play havoc with primary healthcare in the capital in the coming months. New research among 644 surgeries has confirmed the worst for London practices, with one in five facing the prospect of closure within three years.

This survey reflects the worrying state of approximately half of the capital’s surgeries. As a result of this relentless pressure and strain, it was found that an eighth of London practices are considering scaling back the services they offer. With onsite primary healthcare already inaccessible for thousands of London-based patients, many will be unsure of where to turn with fewer services available and no local clinic to rely on.

19 surgeries have already announced that they will definitely be closing by 2019, with a further 17% of all London practices not ruling out doing the same. Research points to a shortage of family doctors and an increasingly difficult and unmanageable workload as two of several reasons for the potential closures.

As London’s population continues to accelerate – there’s now 8.6 million living in the capital – the accessibility of reliable primary care at the same time diminishes. We’re edging dangerously close to the system as we know it reaching breaking point, and it’s time to have a serious look at alternatives.

Jeremy Hunt has recently finalised a package of emergency measures to relieve strain on GP services – but will it be enough? I found this quote from Dr Naureen Bhatti, in an interview with The Guardian, particularly powerful:

“We’ve had very few applicants [for our GP job vacancies]. We were surprised because we’ve never had trouble filling our jobs before. But it’s become very difficult in the last six to nine months…The vacancies mean that our workload, which is already heavy and rising, has become enormous. I’m absolutely exhausted. I worked from 8am to 9pm or 10pm every day this week and now I often see patients on what are supposed to my administration days because so many people want an appointment.”

It’s staggering to me how we can let our health service reach this kind of drastic state without taking action earlier. The potential of mobile health services has been known by those in the industry for a long time, and it’s so evident that it’s needed now more than ever.

We want to work with the health service to assist them in a much-needed transition to a more tech-minded approach to healthcare. At times like these the industry needs to come together and work differently – we need to use mHealth to be smarter about how we provide the nation with the care it deserves and so badly needs. Through our service we are able to provide patients with appointments from the comfort of their own home – waiting times, appointment demand and poor access to a GP can all be solved through integration with our innovative app.


You can read more of my thoughts on LinkedIn or follow me on Twitter.


Now GP as an Employee Benefit – How We Save You Money

In his latest blog, our Founder & CEO Lee Dentith looks at the growing costs of private medical plans and how Now GP can act as a second point of call – which could save businesses and insurers substantial amounts of time and money.

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New data compiled by Aon Hewitt has revealed some rather bleak predictions for the world of traditional employer-funded medical cover. Costs are expected to increase by 9.3% in the UK in 2016, and after a 7.8% rise last year, these figures are becoming more and more unmanageable.

As employer’s costs rise, it’s going to become increasingly important for insurers to discover and develop new ways of reducing the number of patient referrals to consultants and hospitals. However, this isn’t easy – medical costs would appear to be escalating globally due to our population ageing and our overall declining health.

Through the Now GP mobile health app and its innovative business integration, we’ve worked tirelessly to help reduce the costs associated with employee healthcare and to transform the world of private medical cover.

Recently, Now Healthcare Group conducted an anonymous survey of over 250 NHS GPs. We found that they are 60% more likely to refer patients to hospitals and “private” consultants knowing that the client is covered by a private medical insurance scheme – and that the NHS isn’t going to be held responsible when it comes to paying for any treatment, tests or examinations.

Our concern at Now GP is that a significant number of these issues are primary care concerns that can be diagnosed without the need for a private referral – we want to ensure that only patients who actually require treatment are referred, for the benefit of themselves, their insurance and healthcare providers, and their employer.

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The Now GP platform can be used by businesses to help stop such unnecessary referrals and save a significant amount of money and time. We can act as a second point of call for those patients who have been referred by a GP – in a large number of cases, our video consultations with MRCGP-certified doctors can provide patients with the diagnosis they need without the need for further referral to a hospital, clinic or surgery.

These second examinations are invaluable when it comes to saving insurance companies money, with premiums at an all time high for patients who are referred. Even if the second consultation with a Now GP GP reveals that treatment or tests are needed, in a large number of cases we can help with this, too – we offer the delivery of medicines from our sister company Now Pharmacy and can even offer remote based blood testing to patients. With the results then delivered to them face to face via our app, we can often give patients the treatment and test results they need without them setting foot in their private hospital or clinic.

This helps to keep costs down for insurers, and also saves productivity time for the employer – the patient doesn’t need to take time off work to have tests, and is even able to have a consultation directly from their office via smartphone. We’ve made it our aim to plug the gap left by traditional private healthcare policies, helping employees to get better quickly whilst providing their employer with a convenient, practical solution to staff sickness – something which currently costs our nation’s businesses a staggering £29 billion each year. For more information on what we could do for your business and to learn more about Now GP as an employee benefit, get in touch with us today.


You can read more of Lee’s thoughts on LinkedIn and Twitter.