• Livi to provide services to 1.85m NHS patients 
  • Digital-first provider is collaborating with NHS services in Birmingham, Shropshire and Northamptonshire 
  • Services also expected to be provided at more Surrey GPs

Nearly 2 million NHS patients are to be given access to video consultations with doctors employed by a digital healthcare supplier as a result of a series of deals signed with NHS commissioners. 

Livi, which currently provides digital NHS services in Surrey, has revealed plans to partner with GP federations in Birmingham, Shropshire, Northamptonshire and parts of the south east to provide services to 1.85 million patients.

Patients will be able to sign up to Livi through their practice so they can access video GP consultations, referrals and prescriptions through an app. The appointments will initially be carried out by GPs employed by Livi. The supplier said it plans to offer patients video consultations with their regular doctors in the future.

Livi – which is the UK’s division of European healthcare provider Kry – provides video GP consultations through a mobile app.

It began working with the NHS in north west Surrey and has now struck deals with local GP federations, including Birmingham’s Our Health Partnership, Northampton General Practice Alliance and Shropshire’s Alliance for Better Care to expand its NHS services. Digital services will also be offered at more Surrey practices. 

Livi is the latest digital GP business to announce an expansion of its NHS services, after Babylon GP at Hand launched a second clinic in Birmingham in June.

Babylon GP at Hand offers patients digital primary care services, including video consultations. It operates from a practice in the Hammersmith and Fulham Clinical Commissioning Group area, but offers services to patients further afield. Its rapid expansion has led to more than 50,000 patients being registered at the one CCG, which has had significant financial implications.

The service has been highly controversial, with some GPs accusing it of disrupting primary care and cherry picking healthy patients.

Deputy operations director at Our Health Partnership, Leanne Hoye, said the deal with Livi offers patients more flexibility, as they can choose to have video GP consultations without leaving their practice in favour of a digital provider. 

She said: “When we were first considering digital providers we did look at a multitude of providers in terms of what we could offer both from a patient point of view and a practice point of view. The ideal would be that we had the opportunity to offer both digital appointments with the providers’ GPs, like Livi, at the times when the practices GPs were unavailable or fully booked.

“We also wanted to be able to offer to the patients at OHP practices the ability to see their own doctor on a digital consultation. Livi will allow us to provide appointments through the Livi GPs and at a later stage when it is more embedded to be able to offer appointments to the practices’ registered list with their own GPs.”

Chair of the British Medical Association GPs committee Richard Vautrey said Livi’s plans to work in partnership with practices are “far more sensible” than working in competition with them.

He added: “Providing practices the additional capacity and ability to be able to do online activity which they wouldn’t otherwise be able to do can be helpful. It needs to be properly resourced and it is part of the wider need for IT investment in general practice. 

“Practices should be able to offer patients a range of access opportunities which they may not be able to at the moment because they simply do not have the technology.”