We had our 1000th patient book an online appointment with a consultant psychiatrist a few days ago. Over 600 people have paid to see one of our online psychiatrists in the last year – and we are now seeing around 20 patients each week. However, we are not happy about this. We are not happy because many of those 20 patients shouldn’t have to pay to see us privately – they should be able to get their local NHS CCG to fund a consultation with us if there is no access to psychiatrists locally or if the delays involved in waiting to see a local NHS psychiatrist are unreasonable. A few patients have now managed to get that NHS funding – but it has taken months, and a very supportive GP to get it. Of course, we then see the patient within days…..

We have all the badges..

We are fully qualified to provide our skills to the NHS – we are CQC (Care Quality Commission) registered, we’re a GMC regulated designated body, and we carry a group medical indemnity policy that covers all of the work done on our system. What is more, we are not some big corporate monster, trying to take over the NHS – we are just a group of NHS doctors, organised as a chamber, (like a chamber of barristers,) who have built our own online platform for delivering our skills rapidly and economically to anyone with a digital device and internet access.

Don’t just take our word for it..

We have spent 5 years developing and refining our online services, working out what we can and can’t do, making sure that we do it right – and we’ve seen those 1000+ patients online. Our patients love what we do. Look at our reviews on iwantgreatcare, the independent healthcare review site. After some initial doubts about whether the doctor will be able to do their job properly over the internet, almost all remark on the relief of being able to access such expertise from the comfort of their own home, with the discretion and convenience that it provides.

We will be publishing some research in the close future that shows that, for those who have tried both, online is almost always regarded as preferable now. We will also be publishing some research based on the trial service into a GP surgery that we have funded from our own pockets that shows that, if the NHS would fund our service to GPs, we would cut onward referrals to local services by over 50%.

Let’s say that number again. We claim we can cut onward referrals to local NHS mental health services by over 50%. That includes 50% fewer people needing to go into hospital for depression. These are huge numbers. Here’s the other bit of the same number – the cost would be 10% of what they are spending at the moment. We can do this by providing GPs and their patients with rapid access to our specialist medical expertise, taking the management of the risk out of their hands and empowering them to manage more patients themselves with the knowledge that they can get rapid access to our medical expertise when needed.

We want our service to be accessible by everybody..

So why, when we can do so much, can we not even get the NHS to use our services properly? Why can’t we get a trial funded? We have certainly tried at every level from top to bottom – we’ve even tried to talk to politicians! Huge numbers of patients – and every GP we have ever talked to – would love to have access to our medical expertise, but not one NHS Mental Health Trust or NHS Clinical Commissioning Group has even taken a demonstration of what we do and not one NHS grant fund or “innovation accelerator” has responded to one of our applications. The fact is, despite the huge cost savings that we believe we could make them, and the improvements in the mental health of so many that we believe we could make, we just do not fit the existing model.

NHS Mental Health Trusts provide a valuable social service, helping to manage their patients’ mental health; but the problem is that it isn’t all about mental “health” – it’s also about mental illness, and they do not want to acknowledge that the NHS just cannot provide that medical service any more as they haven’t got the psychiatrists to do it. We have – and we can – efficiently, economically and, above all, effectively. All we want is the chance to prove it.

We are proud to say that what we do is to we help people who have mental illnesses to recognise and define their issues to the best of our medical ability – and to get the best treatment and support that we can for them. We are proud to be a medical service,  providing the highest standards of medical diagnosis, medical risk management, medication and onward referral to suitably qualified and supported online therapists, coaches and counsellors, working under our medical supervision.

To quote a review from one of our patients on iwantgreatcare. “Psychiatry-UK represent the future of outpatient psychiatry…”