The NHS is one of the UK's greatest achievements, offering millions of people free healthcare that in other parts of the world costs an eye-watering sum. But it's not always easy for its patrons to access the care they need. Seeing a doctor often involves trudging down to the surgery first thing in the morning and waiting for hours, or joining a legion of other patients all attempting to call the surgery at the same time once it opens. So in a bid to eliminate these bottlenecks, the NHS is launching a new app that makes it easier for patients in England to access health services.
Coming in December this year, the app will enable patients to make GP appointments, order repeat prescriptions, manage long-term healthcare and quickly access 111 for urgent medical queries. It will also let users state their preferences on organ donation, end-of-life care and data-sharing. Health and Social Care Secretary Jeremy Hunt said that the app is a world-first, and he hopes it will "mark the death-knell of the 8am scramble for GP appointments that infuriates so many patients."
It's not the first time we've seen the NHS take a punt on digital services. Back in 2014 a number of improvements were implemented, giving patients access to their medical records online. However, as 2017's WannaCry attack demonstrated, the NHS still has a long way to go in bringing its administrative infrastructure up to speed. But in connecting patients directly to the services they need -- the ultimate purpose of the NHS -- this new app is an excellent place to start.