The future of primary care has to be ‘way more technology enabled’ as a £45 million fund to help GP surgeries implement online consultation programmes is launched this week.

Speaking on the second day of EhiLive on 1 November, head of general practice development at NHS England, Dr Robert Varnam explained how GP practices across England are coming under increasing pressures.

This pressures, Dr Varnam said, are down to a number of factors including population growth and a rise in the complexity of care GPs are required to deal with.

Varnam added: “One issue is we don’t have as many GPs as we need and we don’t have as many GPs as we are used to having.”

“These big pressures helps us conclude that change is necessary.”

He also said that the future of primary care must be ‘way more technology enabled’ adding that “change is everywhere”.

Varnham then announced that £45m of funding from NHS England was launched on October 30.

The money will be used to implement an online consultation programme for three years across a number of GP practices.

Online consultations involve a website or app being the first point of contact with the aim of promoting self care and patient empowerment.

While funding is available to all Varnham made it clear that online consultation programmes are not being ‘forced’ onto GP practices.

Calling online consultations ‘exciting’,  Varnham added: “The future of primary care cannot look like it is now and patient facing technology is a key part of helping the pressure in primary care.”

He also said that ‘groups of GP practices’ could implement the technology together and help one another.

In September, a mobile app that allows patients to access all their medical information went live with three major GP suppliers.

The app links a personal health record (PHR) with patient-facing services (PFS).

The impact of the Wannacry ransom attack outbreak dominated the first day of EHI Live.

Charles Gutteridge, chief clinical information officer (CCIO) of Barts Health NHS Trust and Matthew Connor, head of IT at Southport and Ormskirk NHS Trust, shared their experiences of the attack which caused widespread disruption to England’s health services in May.