Doctors in Unite (DiU) will be supporting a demonstration tomorrow (July 24) in protest against GP at Hand, an online NHS GP app powered by private company Babylon that critics have said is destabilising general practice.
The protest, organised by Save our Hospitals (Hammersmith and Charing Cross) with support from Tower Hamlets Keep our NHS Public, will be held outside GP at Hand’s headquarters in Fulham on Tuesday, July 24, from 5pm to 7pm. Health staff, campaigners, and concerned patients will be among those protesting a service which GPs say isn’t safe and excludes people with complex health needs.
As UNITElive highlighted last month, nearly 30,000 people have signed up to the service, which requires you to deregister from your current GP.
The loss of tens of thousands of patients – the vast majority of whom are between 20 and 39 years old and so tend to be healthy – has sparked fears of a substantial loss in registration fees, since it is younger, healthier patients who in effect subsidise the older and less healthy population.
Tomorrow’s protest comes just weeks after it was revealed the newly appointed health secretary Matt Hancock is a patient of GP at Hand.
“We are very concerned about the model of care that GP at Hand uses and how it cherry picks the young and tech savvy patients,” Dr David Wrigley, a GP in Lancashire and chair of Doctors in Unite (DiU) told Pulse.
“Income is lost from practices they leave – income needed for the NHS risk pool that is essential to the survival of every surgery in the country,” he explained. “We urge Mr Hancock to look at the deeper issues affecting general practice on this topic and I’d be happy to meet him to explain our significant concerns.”
Doctors in Unite (DiU) deputy chair and London GP Dr Jackie Applebee agreed.
“It is a pity that the new health secretary has not acquainted himself with the fact that widespread concern has been expressed by GPs with regard to the model of GP at Hand,” she told Pulse.
“We are not Luddites and embrace innovation when it is evidence based,” she added.
Doctors in Unite urges everyone who can to join tomorrow’s protest.
“In practice, 80 per cent of the population is reasonably well, which supports 20 per cent of the population who fall seriously ill,” Dr Wrigley said. “At one point or another, all of us will be among the 20 per cent – that’s why this issue should concern everyone.
“GP at Hand poses a serious threat to the viability of general practice and that’s why we urge everyone to attend tomorrow’s protest. We must send a loud and clear message that we refuse to stand by while a fundamental part of our NHS is under attack.”
Find out full details about tomorrow’s protest here.