Would you ever use an online doctor (A GMC registered online doctor from the UK, of course, not anyone who has a doctorate)? I didn’t think I would. But place yourself in this scenario.
*ring ring. ring ring. ring ring. ring ring. ring ring. ring ring.*
“You. Are. Number [pause] five. In the queue. Please. Hold the line. And a receptionist will. Be with you. Shortly.”
*ring ring. ring ring. ring ring. ring ring. ring ri…*
“You. Are. Number [pause] two. In the queue. Please. Hold the line. And a receptionist will. Be with you. Shortly.”
*ring ring. ring ring. ring ring. ring ring. ring ring. ring ring. ring rin…*
“You. Are. [pause] next. In the queue. Please. Hold the line. And a receptionist will. Be with you. Shortly.”
*ring ring. ring ring. ring ring. ring ring. ring ring. ring ri…*
“Hello. You are through. To the [pause] medical centre. Press. One. for appointments. Press. Two. for test results – *crackle crackle* these can only be given out after [pause] 10am. Press. Three. to speak to a d…”
*ring ring. ring ring. ring ring. ring ring. ring ring. ring ring. ring ring. ring ring. ring ring. ring ring. ring ring. ring ring.ring ring. ring ring. ring ring. ring ring. ring ring. ring ring.ring ring. ring ring. ring ring. ring ring. ring ring. ring ring. ring…*
“Hello can I help you?”
“Hello, can I book an appointment with a doctor please?”
“We have nothing today I’m afraid, I can add you to our cancellation list if you like?”
“No, sorry I have to be back at work. Can I book an appointment for tomorrow or sometime this week?”
“No, we don’t offer future appointments.”
“Oh. So how can I book in then?”
“You have to call in on the day, it’s worth getting on the phone to us by about 8:30.”
“Yeah, see I called then but I’ve been on hold for *checks time* over 45 minutes.”
“Hmmm. Sorry about that.”
“Ok, so I can only book an appointment on the day? Not for tomorrow?”
“It’s an emergency really, I need….”
“Right. We’ll book you a call with the duty doctor, he’ll be in touch today between 1pm and 5:30pm. Can I take the best number please.”
“But I’ll be having meeting with my employer about…”
“Can you take a break at work?”
“Sorry, it’s a new policy. Try calling NHS111.”
If you’re an NHS user who has a weekday 9-5 job, it’s likely you’ve had to deal with the trauma of doctor’s surgery receptionists essentially blocking you from booking an appointment. My local surgery has been great – up until a few weeks ago. Previously it was possible to book with your chosen doctor for any time within the coming fortnight. Now patients can only see a GP, any GP, if they win the phone line lottery.
If there’s one word to describe general practice at the moment it’s waiting. I understand the pressure. I do. I’m going into nursing for crying out loud. Understaffed takes on a whole new meaning. And half the time, booked GP appointments aren’t necessary. Like, a cold is a cold. There’s nothing anyone can do. Are you telling me you need a doctor to say you need to take some painkillers and maybe steam your nose a bit? That’s how a doctor should spend his time?
Now, I didn’t need to physically see the doctor, but I did need to see the doctor.
I don’t trust NHS111. I just don’t
So, while the receptionist’s suggestion of using NHS 111 can be useful, looking at the job description for a call handler shows the only real requirement needed is being over 18. Not to sound snobby in any way as I’m sure the training they receive is good, but I don’t feel massively confident knowing potentially a teen with no clinical experience is dealing with me.
In a very informal Facebook survey I held of 191 registered nurses, healthcare assistants, and nursing students, 55% said they would love the option of patients getting to speak to a doctor online or by phone for an appointment rather than tie up time in the clinic. 32% thought all appointments should be in person, but 22% of these agreed some issues could be handled by phone. Only 13% neither agreed or disagreed.
My Push Doctor review: seeing a random GP online
So, would you be happy if your GP offered a video consult? I gave it a go. Rather than wait for a GP to call or chance another 45 minute wait at my local surgery, I booked an appointment with a GMC registered GP using Push Doctor. Reading Push Doctor reviews online to get an idea of how it works, the service allows users to have a 10-minute video appointment with an actual doctor in the comfort of their own home, get a prescription immediately, and also have referrals and fit notes issued if needed. It’s pretty much everything a GP can do just without a physical examination.
I’ve used it three times now, and I’m sold. I don’t think I’ll ever need to visit my surgery ever again.
How my appointment worked
It was so simple even my mum could get on board. I decided to download the app which talks users through each step. When you want to see a GP, the big green box lets you see a list of available appointments. As there are thousands of GPs available appointments can be booked immediately or within a week. I chose an appointment for a few days time knowing that way I wouldn’t be disturbed.
Before your appointment Push Doctor will send a reminder text and email with a link to follow. You can enter the virtual ‘waiting room’ up to 20 minutes before, but I literally logged on at the time of my appointment. Your microphone, camera and internet connection are checked before each appointment to make sure you can see them, and they can see you.
Once your doctor is ready you are presented with their name and GMC number. The video screen splits, and you’re on your way. I saw Dr Poonam Sharma. She asked questions and my reason for calling. If time is running out – I only used 7 of my ten minutes – your GP will ask if you want the appointment extended, and if not they’ll wrap it up in time for you.
After your appointment you’ll receive a few emails including your consultation number, any prescriptions and notes from your GP as well as an invoice.
After that, I logged off and went to the pharmacy. Being honest, I didn’t even bother getting changed out of my pyjamas.
My second appointment was with me and David. David had issues with our GP surgery (again) and he needed an urgent repeat prescription issued. Done and done in ten minutes. And after my surgery, I was still in quite a bit of pain. My consultant’s PA was on annual leave and as the surgery was carried out privately my GP didn’t have notes and couldn’t offer me an appointment, so a quick call and a chat via Push Doctor and again, everything was sorted. I was given great advice too and as the GPs are aware prescriptions are paid for, they ensure you’re only given items that will benefit you. No handing our needleess painkillers and antibiotics if they’re not going to help.
Each session is fully encrypted so no one can get your info, data protected, and you can opt for your notes not to be passed on to your GP if you prefer. Push NHS is also working with Trusts across the UK to try and roll out the consultation process to local practices, but at this stage it’s a private medical appointment, as as such you do pay.
How much does Push Doctor cost?
It’s really simple. Rather than a monthly subscription charge – because who needs to see a doctor more than once a month? – users can opt to pay a one-off fee for a ten-minute appointment. The first appointment is £15. Appointments after that are £20. If a prescription is needed it’s £8 for up to seven items (the private clinic I worked in charged £20 for each item even on one prescription sheet) plus the cost of the medication you need – it was £6 from Boots for my meds. It works the same as any green NHS prescription, and you can ask the pharmacist for generic rather than branded drugs if you want to save pennies. A referral letter and/or fit note is £15.
All-in-all, expect the first appointment to cost around £23 plus any medication required, and a second appointment around £28.
Push Doctor Premium: £20 per month
For those who want the security of seeing a doctor whenever they want, with no limits to appointment times, no prescription/sick note fees and no waits, Push Doctor Premium is £20 a month with no fixed term contract. However you are tied in for the long-term on this witha fair use policy in place, and if you do decide to cancel you are likely to be charged for any additional appointments that aren’t included within your allowance as per their t&cs (June 2017):
‘We allocate an amount of consultation time to you each month and if you choose to cancel your membership in any given month we will calculate the pro-rata number of consultations that you have been allocated (rounding up) and match this to the number that you have used. We know that the average person in the UK visits a GP for advice six times a year and therefore we believe fair usage of our service is eight consultations per annum. We allocate eight consultations to you for the twelve-month period and therefore we calculate that each month your allocated use is 66.66% of the annually allotted number of consultations.’
Is it worth it? Perhaps, if £20 out of your salary is chump change, but for those occasional users such as myself, the pay and go option works perfectly well.
It’s a great service that for me, and busy professionals, is invaluable. It helps ease the bloat of the NHS as GPs work in their off-time, and means medical conditions can be dealt with immediately rather than having to wait (or not having them seem to at all). It’s a shame the NHS is the way it is. Many GP practices have been forced into accpeting far too many patients, and are being under-funded by the government day-by-day. Think Virgin Care stealthily buying out many surgeries. Whenever and however the NHS revolutionises healthcare, we’ll have to make do. For those who need to see a doctor right now, I’d definitely say give it a go.
And of course, it wouldn’t be right to not offer a little Push Doctor voucher for our readers…
Push Doctor promo code for our readers
To get £5 off your appointment, all you need to do is enter the Push Doctor promo code below.Push Doctor Voucher Code: laura4948
YOU SHOULD CALL 999 in a critical or life-threatening situation, such as if someone has;
- difficulty breathing
- severe bleeding and it cant be stopped
- severe chest pain
- loss of consciousness
- acute confused states and fits which aren’t stopping
If you or someone else is having what you believe to be a heart attack or stroke you should DIAL 999 immediately.
GO STRAIGHT TO NHS ACCIDENT & EMERGENCY IF YOU THINK YOU OR SOMEONE ELSE IS IN AN URGENT OR EMERGENCY MEDICAL SITUATION – YOU SHOULD NOT USE Push Doctor.