I love my bog standard freebie, my-National-Insurance-covers-this GP’s surgery. It’s one of those places where, should you fall ill and need their services, you have to justify seeing your doctor. You have to know roughly three weeks in advance that you’re going to be unwell. You have to plan for sickness. Plan.
If you couldn’t tell, my proclamation of love was pure sarcasm. The NHS is at breaking point, with most (if not all)surgeries being run by the likes of private ‘enterprises’ such as Virgin Healthcare, or partner-run practices funded via the government. Services are being pushed to deliver more with rapidly diminishing budgets. Sometimes I wonder why Laura is going into nursing. I mean, the shift towards privatisation isn’t being hidden with any degree of success, regardless of what Jeremy Hunt says. He would love to give nurses a raise on their £12 an hour wage, y’know.
And my experience of booking a doctor’s appointment isn’t limited to me and my surgery. It is happening everywhere. Unless you have insurance to go private, options are limited. It’s waiting, or just seeing it out.
This frustration is exactly what Alex Hamilton experienced on his return from the Armed Forces, so he decided to do something about it. He created DocTap. DocTap offers same-day private GP appointments in three locations across London without paying a premium, just £24 and the cost of a travelcard. Rather than being held over Skype or via a phone call (great for convenience, not always practical if you need tests or examination), they’re held in-person at two locations across the city. So when I booked an appointment one Monday night after work, on the day I needed one no less, already it was ahead of its NHS counterpart.
DocTap Review: Check in
Situated a stumble away from the ever-busy Liverpool Street Station (near Spitalfields market and its incredible eclectic stalls to boot) I booked an appointment just before heading out to dinner at our favourite Italian restaurant, La Tagliata. Now, there’s no grumpy receptionist who’s been yelled at by 561 patients before you waiting to greet you. No overworked secretaries just praying for five minutes without the phone ringing off the hook. Just an iPad. Type in your name and email address you registered when making an appointment and bingo, your attendance is noted. You’re there, ready to go. To be fair, a growing number of GPs are embracing technology with touch screens to check in. This is great for those of us who don’t fancy talking to anyone when we’re feeling unwell.
DocTap Review: The appointment
Appointments are scheduled for 15 minutes each (you can book a double if you have a few things to get off your chest), but they’re unlike any consultation I’ve ever had. I sat down with Dr Rahman and discussed the issues I had. He asked lots of questions, which made me feel pretty comfortable. At no point did I feel rushed or that time was ticking by. He conducted a pretty thorough examination too. My appointment lasted a little over 30 minutes overall, which says a lot about the service on offer. I wasn’t invoiced for this extra time either.
Once your appointment is over, your doctor will send you the notes via email for you to take to your NHS GP. Then, your GP can action any referrals, appointments, or consultant bookings without actually having to see you. Don’t worry, they’re password protected. If you do have private medical insurance then they can go ahead and make any necessary referrals there and then. Brilliant for those with BUPA.
DocTap Review: The benefits
Where do I start? Same day service. Private quality. Affordable. Thorough. But there’s one thing that’s more important, more vital, than all of these; I wasn’t handed a freshly printed prescription for needless medication and sent on my merry way. The doctor listened to me, and even ask my opinion on treatment options going forward. I was made to feel like a patient, not someone on a conveyor belt. And I bet that’s how everyone leaves feeling, too.
DocTap Review: The drawback
After my glowing praise, how can there be any drawbacks? After all, isn’t good health the most important thing? Well, there is one. At present, the service is only available in London. It would be great to see it rolled out across other cities and towns in the U.K. Some people may be put off by the cost, but at £24 for near-instant service, we feel it’s definitely worth it.
Our overall impression of DocTap
It’s a brilliant service. Imagine having an appointment with a GMC registered, fully qualified doctor, but paying a fraction of the price. There are three clinics – one in Edgware Road, one at Bond Street and one in Spitalfields (near Liverpool Street) – with the promise of more to come this year.
DocTap // Liverpool Street, Bond Street, Edgeware Road | Website | Prices from £24