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Last Updated: Sunday, 22 July 2007, 23:09 GMT 00:09 UK
Digital TV booking scheme for GPs
Remote control
GP appointments are booked by pressing the interactive button
Thousands of patients around the country will be able to book GP appointments via their TV, after the national roll-out of a pilot scheme.

Trials of the service in South Yorkshire showed that it reduced the number of missed appointments.

Over 1,100 surgeries could now offer the service, which allows patients to make, amend and cancel appointments through digital TV and mobile phones.

In future, patients will also be able to order repeat prescriptions.

The service is accessed through pressing the interactive button on the digital TV remote.

It is essential that we offer patients a range of choices to allow them to book an appointment with their GP in a way that is most convenient for them
Dr Mayur Lakhani

Patients in participating areas can access information from the doctor's receptionist along with a password which allows them to log in to the system.

The appointments system that the patient can see is the same that the doctor's receptionist uses when someone phones up or asks for an appointment in person.

Better access

The service can be accessed through the Looking Local portal on the interactive menus on Sky, cable and Freeview boxes with a modem or broadband connection.

On WAP-enabled mobile phones, access to Looking Local is charged at varying rates depending on the service provider.

Makers EMIS said they were planning to include repeat prescriptions and patient health information in the service in the future to further help to reduce the pressures on GP practices.

Results from the pilot scheme showed that fewer people failed to turn up for their appointments saving GP time.

Sean Riddell, healthcare managing director of EMIS, said: "Thousands more people across the UK will now be able to enjoy the convenience of booking a doctor's appointment via digital television - at the touch of a button.

"As well as improving access to healthcare for patients, this unique service also saves valuable time and money for busy surgeries."

Professor Mayur Lakhani, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said the new appointment service showed the profession was committed to improving access for patients.

"As a practising GP, I know from personal experience that the option of booking appointments online has proved very popular and I would expect that this project will have a similarly positive impact," he said.

"Digital TV, the internet and mobile phones are all part of modern society and it is essential that we offer patients a range of choices to allow them to book an appointment with their GP in a way that is most convenient for them."


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29 Jan 07 |  Health

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