Jeremy Hunt to unveil plans for digital-led NHS treatment by 2018

Jeremy Hunt is to pledge that every patient in England should be able to access their medical records and book an appointment with a GP via an app by the end of 2018.

The health secretary will use his speech at an NHS conference on Tuesday to promise the national rollout of an integrated app, which patients will also be able to use for ordering repeat prescriptions and accessing NHS 111 – the non-emergency medical helpline.

Speaking at the Health and Care Innovation Expo in Manchester, he is expected to unveil the key expectations he wants to see rolled out across the NHS by the end of its 70th birthday year in 2018.

Hunt will also refer to the next 10 years as “the decade of patient power”.

He is expected to say: “People should be able to access their own medical records 24/7, show their full medical history to anyone they choose and book basic services like GP appointments or repeat prescriptions online.

“I do not underestimate the challenge of getting there – but if we do it will be the best possible 70th birthday present from the NHS to its patients.”

Pilot schemes, which are a part of the £4.2bn personalised health and care 2020 programme announced by the health secretary last year, are already under way.

In south-east London, patients can access NHS 111, book GP appointments, order repeat prescriptions and receive online consultations with their GP all via a smartphone.

Evaluation of the pilots is ongoing and, if they are successful, there will be a national rollout of the programmes in the coming months.

There has also been success with online trials supporting those with long-term conditions – such as the app MyCOPD, which is intended to help patients manage their condition independently and give them more freedom and less reliance on GP and hospital appointments. The ambition is that this level of digitally led treatment should be available universally.

Imelda Redmond, national director of Healthwatch England, welcomed the plans, saying the vision “directly addresses” what the public wants from a modern NHS.

She added: “It is a huge step forward in ensuring all of us get the sort of integrated service we have come to expect in many other areas of life.”