Virtual GPs in the UK

Virtual GP appointments are one of several telemedicine services available in the UK that help individuals access health services from anywhere using a connected device. They can be accessed through public healthcare, pay-as-you-go services, or as part of a health insurance insurance policy.
January 10, 2024
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What is a virtual GP?

A virtual GP is an online appointment with a qualified GP or other healthcare professional, either through a phone or video call. They can be used to discuss symptoms and health concerns so that you can receive medical advice from qualified personnel at a convenient time.

They’re available to provide consultations about your symptoms or health concerns. They may refer you directly to a specialist for further treatment.

How to get a virtual GP appointment

There are several ways to access virtual GP services in the UK:

  • Health insurance - Many policies include virtual GP appointments and consultations within your monthly price. There may be a limit on the number of appointments you can access within a policy year.
  • NHS - Some public-run health services offer telemedicine services, such as virtual GP appointments. However, they may be limited to certain practices and have lower availability than other options.
  • Pay-as-you-go - Pay for virtual GP appointments as and when you need them. You may pay more or less depending on the type of appointment, when you book it, and who your GP is.

Private health insurance and virtual GPs

Virtual GP services are widely available as part of a health insurance policy. Some policies will include them as standard, while others may require you to add them to your core cover. 

It’s important to note that health insurance offers a wide range of cover on top of their virtual GP offering, and by purchasing a policy, you’ll access additional health-related cover on top of virtual GP access. We’ve reviewed UK health insurance providers offering virtual GPs and found the following:

  1. Bupa - Video call or speak to a doctor or nurse 24/7 and get an appointment within 24 hours.
  2. Vitality - Guaranteed appointment within 48 hours of your first contact, with 24/7 access to doctors and nurses.
  3. AXA Health - Appointments are usually available within 24 hours for 24/7 appointments with a GP or nurse.
  4. Aviva  - 24/7 access to virtual GP consultations and medical helplines for counselling and support.
  5. The Exeter - Book a 24/7 virtual GP call or video consultation from anywhere in the world.
  6. WPA - 24/7 access to private GP helplines and video call appointments.
  7. Freedom health insurance - 24/7 private GP appointments, who aim to provide an appointment between 24-72 hours after making a request.

Important notes about health insurance and virtual GPs

You won’t pay excess on virtual GP appointments that are included within your cover as they don’t count as a claim.
Your policy may limit the number of virtual GP appointments you can access each year, i.e. 6 per year per policyholder.
Many providers offer additional telemedicine services on top of virtual GP appointments.

NHS and virtual GPs

Some public health practices offer telemedicine services such as ordering repeat prescriptions, viewing your health record, managing in-person appointments, and booking virtual GP consultations.

However, only some practices in the UK offer virtual GP appointments, and those that do may have limited availability depending on the demand. For more information, visit the NHS online services page.

Pay-as-you-go virtual GPs

There are many UK companies that allow you to pay for virtual GP appointments as and when you need them. The process varies between providers, but as an example, you choose an appointment type (i.e. phone or video), a time that works for you, and then pay the associated fee. In some cases, you may also be able to choose which GP you visit. We’ve compared some of the options available and found the following:

  1. Medicspot - From £29 (when booking in advance)
  2. Bupa - From £55
  3. Dr.Online - From £55 
  4. The GP Service - From £49
  5. Gogodoc - From £50

Important notes about pay-as-you-go virtual GPs

The monthly amount you pay for a health insurance policy may be less than a single virtual GP appointment through a pay-as-you-go service.
We found that many of the prices changed depending on the type of appointment, the timeslot and whether you chose a specific GP.
You may be able to save by booking an appointment in advance compared to booking on the day you need to see a virtual GP.

Virtual GPs VS in-person GPs

While virtual GPs share many similarities with in-person appointments, there are distinct differences. It’s important to understand these differences when deciding whether a virtual GP service is the right choice for you or if your medical needs would benefit more from an in-person appointment. We’ve listed some of the pros and cons of each to help you make a decision.

Virtual GPs pros and cons

Pros Cons
More flexibility in appointment times. Limited examination as a GP isn’t able to inspect you in person.
Appointments may be available sooner. You may see a different GP each time you have an appointment.
You may have a choice in which GP you see. Requires you to have a reliable internet connection.
Receive medical advice from anywhere, as long as you have a connected device. They may be expensive if accessed outside of an existing health insurance policy.
They may be included as part of a health insurance policy. Requires you to have a smart device and use technology.
See a GP in the comfort of your home and avoid travelling while unwell. Limited free availability through the NHS.
There may be a reduced risk of spreading your illness compared to travelling to an in-person appointment. You may find it more difficult to communicate compared to in-person appointments.
If you have mobility issues, virtual GP appointments may be more accessible.

In-person GPs pros and cons

Pros Cons
Available for free if accessed through the NHS. It may be time-consuming when you consider travel, booking your appointments and waiting at practices.
Allows for a comprehensive physical checkup and diagnostic. You may be exposed to illnesses when you visit your GP in person.
You may be able to build up a relationship with your GP and feel more comfortable attending appointments. Waiting times may be longer compared to virtual GP services.
If your health concern is serious, you may be able to receive immediate medical attention. You may not have a choice over your appointment times.

Access virtual GPs through health insurance

If you see the benefit of virtual GP services, we can help you compare health insurance policies that include this cover. You’ll receive many other benefits that come with health insurance and may not need to pay anything additional to access virtual GP appointments.

Our comparison service is free to use, and you’re under no obligation to purchase any of the policies we share with you. Please provide us with some basic information below, and we’ll be happy to help.

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