Dr Sarwat Hassan, NHS doctor and partner of Chobham and West End, Surrey and Woking GP practices, explains how technology is helping her solve the stress of childcare issues this summer.
As a GP and surgery partner, I am incredibly fortunate to have a job I love, but despite this, the summer holidays can be somewhat stressful.
I am a mother of two young children, and like many other parents, I must juggle childcare issues around my job. Flexible working is gaining in popularity in many industries, but it is only recently having an impact on the NHS. The very nature of my role as a GP means I need to see my patients face-to-face.
According to NHS Digital data, nearly half (48%) of doctors working within general medicine are female, and the proportion of NHS doctors who are women has grown every year since 2009. A recent report by the Health Foundation found the overall NHS workforce shortfall could increase to 160,000 by 2023/24, which includes a shortfall of 7,000 GPs.
In this technological age, the concept of face-to-face is changing, and technology is a huge enabler of this. This summer, I will work part-time from home, consulting my patients face-to-face via the digital healthcare app LIVI. Working via LIVI enables me to provide expertise to my patients from the comfort of my own home, meaning I can extend or flex my hours to fit around my children, while still working a full-time week.
As the NHS moves to embrace digital, it is having a very real impact on my work life balance. Being able to see patients through LIVI means I can still serve my patients, often out of normal surgery hours or on the weekends.
Of course, digital healthcare is a relatively new discipline, and I too wasn’t sure how it would work when I signed up. In order to embrace new technologies like LIVI, doctors get training and support to ensure they are providing the quality care a patient would expect in a face-to-face appointment.
As a result, LIVI provides a dedicated account manager for each doctor, as well as regular feedback on our work to help drive exceptional standards of care. LIVI requires all GPs to maintain at least 20% of their hours in physical practice, meaning I can still see patients in the surgery and feel part of my practice’s community.
It is through embracing digital tools such as LIVI that will help revolutionise the working day for doctors, enabling them to pursue other commitments when necessary, whilst still providing brilliant care. Currently, one in four patients across the country have to wait over a week to see their GP in person. Patients who use LIVI can avoid lengthy waits, or the need to visit an Urgent Care Centre unnecessarily: 96% of cases which we can treat are fully resolved via video.
With 1.5m employees, it is the right time for the NHS to address workplace culture, and I welcome new technologies that may help alleviate pressures on the system. Being a GP can be the best job in the world but only if general practice is properly resourced and we’re given the tools to consult safely and effectively. Ultimately, digital health technology like LIVI helps lessen the childcare burden for parent doctors this summer, helping to ensure that the NHS is a desirable place to work in years to come.