Last reviewed 9 September 2020

The Scottish Government has announced that GPs in Scotland will be conducting all patient consultations via video link in future.

The Scottish Government is planning to roll out an existing video consultation platform as the default option for all patients consultations across general practice and secondary care, despite concern being expressed for the future of the doctor-patient relationship.

Accessed by patients via a website, the "Near Me" consultation platform has already been available to all GP practices in Scotland, although it has been used on a voluntary basis.

However, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon recently set out her Programme for Government for 2020/21 confirming that, while recognising video consultations would not be appropriate for every patient or situation, Scotland will "build on the rapid expansion of digital access to care that was achieved in response to Covid" in the months ahead.

Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) Scotland Chair Dr Carey Lunan said these digital options can work well for patients who have access to technology and are confident in using it, although certain groups of patients such as those living with sensory impairment or who have English as a second language will struggle.

The advice goes further than that of Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock, who suggested in July that all GP consultations in England should be carried out remotely going forward unless there was a "compelling clinical reason" to see a patient face to face.