NHS Digital finds that more people are using the NHS App to book appointments and repeat prescriptions, helping to save an average of 22,000 car journeys every month.

New analysis carried out by NHS Digital found that about 200,000 appointments and repeat prescriptions arranged through the NHS App between April and December last year would previously have been made by people driving to their local surgery.

The research also estimates that about 4,100 fewer bus and taxi journeys and about 5,500 fewer train and motorbike journeys are being made every month, with patients choosing to use the app instead. In total, more than 206,000 car, bus and taxi trips to GP practices are estimated to have been saved between April and December 2021.

Patient journeys to GP practices account for around 17 per cent of the carbon footprint of the NHS, and the journey savings are estimated to have led to carbon dioxide reduction of 78 tonnes.

As part of its commitments under the NHS Long-Term Plan, the government aims to use digital technologies to support primary and outpatient care, with greater use of the NHS app a key pillar of this strategy. The Long-Term Plan outlines the aim of “reducing outpatient visits by 30 million a year nationally, and reducing the need for unnecessary patient and staff travel” by 2029.

Over 26 million people are now signed-up with the NHS App. In the last four months, more than 5.9 million repeat prescriptions were ordered and over 463,000 GP appointments were booked via the NHS App, saving valuable time for patients and clinicians.

Susie Day, NHS Digital Head of Delivery, NHS App said that “by using the NHS App to manage appointments and order repeat prescriptions online thousands of patient journeys to GP practices are being saved every month.

“The NHS App is providing people with a convenient and secure way to access healthcare and is having a wider positive environmental impact. Sustainability is a key priority for NHS Digital and the organisation is working to reduce its carbon footprint. Last year, use of the app helped save more than 200,000 car journeys, resulting in a significant reduction of carbon emissions.”

A total of 55 apps and e-health services are now available through NHS login, the service that supports the NHS App, including e-Referral services, COVID-19 support and advice, maternity and child health services, online pharmacies, and services to monitor and improve health and wellbeing.