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ThanksDoctor Offers Unlimited Access To Doctors By Email

Max 'Beast from the East' Smolaks covers open source, public sector, startups and technology of the future at TechWeekEurope. If you find him looking lost on the streets of London, feed him coffee and sugar.

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A new subscription service lets you ask a qualified GP for advice, anytime and anywhere

Online healthcare specialists at ThanksDoctor.co.uk have launched a subscription service that allows customers to ask for medical advice by e-mail, and get a response in under 24 hours.

The new “private health plans” offer unlimited communication with a British-trained and registered doctor, and would be useful for hypochondriacs, people with chronic illnesses and anyone who doesn’t want to travel to their GP and endure long queues to ask a simple question.

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According to a survey quoted by ThanksDoctor, since the scrapping of the 48 hour appointment time target in 2010, more than a quarter of NHS patients have to wait for over a week to see their GP. Long waiting lists are the reason for the majority of NHS complaints, and staff operating the telephone service NHS Direct are being laid off as the service is replaced by NHS 111.

ThanksDoctor is aiming to help patients beat GP waiting times without paying outrageous private medical insurance costs, through a simple online service. It is the brainchild of Dr Clare Craig, a consultant at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, who has studied medicine at both Cambridge and Oxford.

“My Eureka moment came when a friend called from her holiday in Cyprus for medical advice to avoid dragging her husband and toddler with her to hospital there.  If I hadn’t been around to tell her not to worry she would have felt she had to go,” explains Craig.

The website has been offering one-off consultation services since 2009. For £25, users can start an email conversation with a doctor, safe in the knowledge that it will finish only when they are completely satisfied.

Now, ThanksDoctor is adding subscriptions, or “private health plans” to its services. A cover for a family with two parents and an unlimited number of children would cost just £7 a week, there are special plans for terminally ill patients, and even an “executive” package for business people.

All of the medical professionals employed by ThanksDoctor have been registered with the General Medical Council for at least seven years. And while it’s true that this would be the second job for many of them, Craig says that customers “can and should expect excellence”.

If in doubt, users can always check any of the 15 doctors’ credentials, including GMC registration, licensing and references, right on the website.

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