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Temporary disruption

Digital service Push Doctor has emerged as one of the major players in the race to provide GP video consultations to the NHS, but it has had its teething problems.

In January last year, it attracted the ire of a local NHS organisation for using the address of a walk-in centre while advertising its private GP video consultation service. Its first Care Quality Commission inspection, carried out in 2017, found Push Doctor was not providing a safe service. Last year, another CQC report noted that, despite some improvements, parts of the service were still not safe.

Now, according to a statement on the company’s website, it is temporarily suspending its services for all patients under 18. 

In a statement, the company said: “The crucial change that is being implemented is that you will be required to enable the sharing of your child’s medical records with their GP before your child is able to consult on Push Doctor.”

Once the changes come into force, children will no longer have their own Push Doctor accounts, but will have accounts linked to their parent or guardians’ accounts. 

According to the statement, this “slight” change “will enable [Push Doctor] to carry on delivering child consultations in the safest possible manner”.

There is no indication in the statement as to what specifically prompted the suspension.

A familiar tale

The failings highlighted by the death of the young Averil Hart back in 2012 will sadly be a familiar tale.

Ms Hart was a young woman, 19-years-old, who had suffered from anorexia nervosa for a number of years. She tragically died following a catalogue of failings from the four NHS organisations who cared for her. A 2017 Parliamentary health service ombudsman report into her death found every organisation missed opportunities to recognise her deteriorating condition.

But the failings from Averil’s death may have been more widespread than initially thought, as HSJ this week revealed the senior coroner for Cambridgeshire, David Hemings, is now looking into four other deaths he claimed were “inextricably” linked to that of Ms Hart.

And, last week, the government and NHS bodies were given a dressing down from MPs on the public administration and constitutional affairs committee for the lack of progress on recommendations in the 2017 PHSO report.

The focus on improvements to children’s and young people’s eating disorder services has been welcome and necessary. However, growing evidence of the number of adults who suffer with eating disorders must also be acted on, or we risk further tragedies like Ms Hart’s.