Interesting to read about a new service launched by Doctaly as a fast track way of getting an appointment to see a general practitioner. The service is web-based but no doubt will follow up with an app. You have to go into their website, login with your postcode and the system brings up a list of doctors registered to the scheme. You can then chose the practitioner you prefer to see from the short list. Doctaly claims to have 10 practices contributing to the scheme in London, and plans to offer a national service by 2018.
Once you have chosen the doctor you want to see, you pay a fixed charge of between £39.99 and £69.99 which buys you a 15 minute consultation.
The service runs outside the NHS so any prescriptions or follow up tests or treatment you will have to pay for yourself. You are not permitted to access a doctor from your registered practice under current rules, but at the end of the appointment you will be given a printed copy of the consultation notes which you can take along to your regular doctor if you wish.
Doctaly is owned by BDM Medical Ltd, a company set up in 2014 with £99 share capital. BDM has two directors, a Dr Dinesh Silva, who has been behind two previous companies, both dissolved, and Ben Teichmann, a digital marketing specialist. The two current directors hold equal shares in the Company, along with a third shareholder, Mark Cutler, an entrepreneur with previous experience in the nightclub and restaurant business.
Doctaly claims to have signed up a number of doctors and GP practices in the London area already and the website cites a number of good reviews from satisfied customers. We can see how this service could be extremely useful to short-term residents and commuters who have difficulty in scheduling appointments with local GP’s. Some may prefer to consult a doctor who they do not know or see regularly, or who wish to discuss something they would not want to appear on their medical records.
Initial reactions from the medical establishment have not been positive. However, it is difficult to challenge Doctaly on ethical or practical grounds. Customers are for the first time offered an affordable alternative to the often frustrating process of obtaining an appointment with a family GP practice, many of which appear to be organised more for the convenience of doctors than the care of patients. If Doctaly succeeds in introducing an element of commercial competition to monopolistic front line health service providers it can only be applauded. You can contact Doctaly through their website.