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NHS app will let you book appointments and become an “expert” patient

A new NHS app announced by the government will allow you to book appointments with your GP, and it’s hoped it will turn users into “expert patients”, according to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt. 

As well as being able to book appointments, the app is planned to eventually let you get non-emergency health advice from the 111 service, sign up as an organ donor, and control access to your health data, the BBC reports.

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Testing for the app is scheduled to begin in September, but a full rollout is expected as soon as December.

The NHS has a history of complex and costly IT projects. In 2013, The Guardian reported that one abandoned project had already cost the organisation £10 billion.

In contrast, the scope for this project seems to be a lot more limited. It’s not promising to host all patient data centrally as the failed system did, and nor will it offer the more advanced features of private health apps, which promise to place you in a remote video consultation with a doctor.

A long-needed upgrade

The problem at the moment is that while many GP surgeries already offer online appointment booking, many others don’t. Those that do offer it can sometimes feel like their websites were designed in the 90s and haven’t been updated since.

The surgery I use relies on an archaic phone-booking system, which has you listen to minutes of explanation for appointment types you have no interest in, before eventually presenting you with appointment choices that a phone’s keypad does a terrible job at selecting.

In other words, no matter how clunky this app is, it’s going to be better than what many people currently have to deal with.

It won’t make the current stresses and strains being placed on the UK’s health service disappear, but at least it should make it easier to access what resources are available.

Tell us about your local GP’s appointment booking system @TrustedReviews.