Hunt launches NHS app to 'put patients in driving seat'

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt trails new NHS patient app that will feature GP record access, appointment booking, and data-sharing preferences.
By Tonya Stewart
Patient using a health app.

UK Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced a new NHS app that will put patients in control of their healthcare and will be available to everyone in England in December 2018.

The new NHS app, which was a key feature of Hunt’s speech to NHS Expo last year, will give patients access to their GP record, enable them to order repeat prescriptions, and access 111 online.

Patients will also be able to use the app to manage long-term conditions, and state their data sharing, organ donation and end of life care preferences.

Hunt said: “I want this innovation to mark the death-knell of the 8am scramble for GP appointments that infuriates so many patients.”

He told the BBC: “I hope it will save a lot of time for GPs so they have more time with their complex patients.”

The app has been developed by NHS Digital and NHS England, and will be available through the Apple App Store or Google Play. Once downloaded, users will sign up for an NHS account to access the services.

“The NHS app is a world-first which will put patients firmly in the driving seat and revolutionise the way we access health services,” Hunt added, saying it was time to “unleash the power of technology to transform everyday life for patients” in the NHS’ 70th year.

NHS England National Director of Operations and Information Matthew Swindells said: “The new app will put the NHS into the pocket of everyone in England but it is just one step on the journey. We are also developing an NHS Apps Library and putting free NHS Wi-Fi in GP surgeries and hospitals.

NHS Digital Chief Executive Sarah Wilkinson said: "We all know that demand for precious NHS services is escalating, and for a large portion of the population digital channels are a preferred means of access to data and services, so this is an opportunity to provide the easier access people want and relieve some burden from front-line providers."

Beta testing for the app is due to start in September, with the launch expected in December.