Pioneering new GP-patient service in line for hat-trick of health sector 'Oscars'

Picture of a doctor

Dr John McCormick - Credit: Submitted

A new scheme which aims to increase the number of South Devon patients taking part in online consultations with their GPs is in line for a hat trick of awards. 

The Devon Clinical Commissioning Group’s Devon Digital Accelerator project has been named as a finalist for three Health Journal Service awards - described as the ‘Oscars of the health sector.’ 

The DDA saw off competition from thousands of entries to be shortlisted in the Connecting Services and Information, Primary Care Innovation and Staff Engagement categories. 

The awards recognise outstanding contributions to healthcare services.  

The DDA has helped Devon record the highest usage figures in the country and ensured 99 per cent of the county’s surgeries now offer online consultations.  

It also helped patients stay safe during the COVID-19 lockdown, enabling them to get GP advice without leaving the house.  

Patients are also being reassured they will still get a face-to-face appointment if their GP thinks they need one.  

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DDA representatives and all finalists will appear, remotely, in front of a judging panel this month (January.) The winners will then be announced at a ‘virtual’ ceremony in March.  

Dr John McCormick, Chief Clinical Information Officer for NHS Devon CCG, said: “Being shortlisted for one HSJ Award would’ve been an honour. To appear in three categories is an outstanding achievement and a tribute to everyone involved. 

 “Thanks to the DDA, Devon has become a standard-bearer for online consultation.  

“While the project started in 2019, it came into its own during the COVID-19 outbreak. The DDA’s work was invaluable in protecting the public and members of our health service by allowing patients to consult their GP from the safety of their own home.”  

The project centres on an online platform called ‘eConsult’, which enables patients to communicate their symptoms in an online form. As well as helping to relieve pressure on GP services, online consultations are a quick, easy and convenient way for patients to access their GP practice. 

Dr McCormick added: “In most cases when a patient contacts their local practice, doctors will talk to them by phone, video or online in the first instance.  

 “If your doctor needs to see you in person, they will do – face-to-face appointments are still happening where they are needed.”