Evidence on digital appointments needs scrutiny, says BMA, as Government instructs more to use the technology in the NHS

by BMA Media team

Press release from the BMA.

Location: UK
Published: Tuesday 15 September 2020
Press Release Icon

Doctors have today called for an examination of the evidence on how, where and when digital, or remote patient consultations should or could be carried out.

At the BMA’s Annual Representative meeting1, delegates passed a motion2 calling on the Association’s Board of Science to take a closer look at remote consultations and when they can be appropriately used.

Doctors noted the necessity for remote consultations during the Covid-19 pandemic, but felt that a greater use of this type of technology, albeit it generally positive, could potentially be detrimental to some patients who require face to face appointments.

Professor Dame Parveen Kumar, Board of Science chair at the BMA, said:

“The use of digital consulting has been essential during the pandemic for reducing the risk of infection for patients and in GP surgeries and hospitals. Digital consulting certainly has its benefits, it’s flexible and can mean more patients are seen. However, we know it’s not for everyone and that some patients should and do need to see a doctor face-to-face - something we have continued to offer where safe and necessary throughout the pandemic.

“The BMA’s Board of Science will review the available evidence to see how valuable an asset this is in helping doctors understand how and when best to use technology for remote consultations. But more importantly, we hope that the Government will take into account the Board’s findings when pushing for greater use of digital technology in the course of patient care.”


Notes to editors

The BMA is a trade union representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.

  1. For full information and to watch the event visit bma.org.uk/arm2020
  2. The full wording of the motion is as below:

    MOTION by ISLINGTON DIVISION: The use of digital consulting has been essential during the pandemic for reducing the risk of infection in GP surgeries and in hospitals, but there is a danger that those who have been arguing for a greater use of technology will change services in a way that impacts negatively on those most in need of care. We call on the Board of Science to examine the evidence base on the use of digital consulting and when this can be appropriately used. PASSED