New tool for Instant messaging GPs for Carers

Dear Carers UK Forum,

This is my first post and I wanted to start by saying a big hello and thank you to all of the essential teams during this time.

By way of introduction, I’m part of an NHSx approved messaging and communication tool called Pando. Over the last 3 years we have grown to become a 50,000 strong network of doctors and nurses in the NHS.

We’re now exploring making the network available to carers as an instant way to contact GPs and other healthcare professionals for advice and guidance.

We’re hoping to speak to anybody who may be willing to help test and refine this instant type of communication, and we’d love to use your feedback to make it better and more valuable.

As one example of how the platform is being used, it enables care teams to immediately speak with a GP, Community Nurse, or specialty doctor in their CCG or Trust as an alternative to 111 during very busy times.

Please take a look at the the following video and if you would be interested in becoming an early part of the project just let us know! Pando - How Forums can help with COVID-19 communication - YouTube

Best regards,


This sounds really interesting. I’ll take a look this evening. We need all the help we can get at the moment.

Could you please clarify if this new tool is for PROFESSIONAL carers or also for those who care for friends/family in an unpaid, non-professional capacity (the unacknowledged, forgotten army that saves the Government in excess of £1 billion per annum)

Carers UK is actually a charity that supports and advises those in the latter category.

Sounds all very good. The big problem us unpaid carers have is that we contact our GPs but find it difficult to get a timely, let alone instant, response! Messaging is one thing, two way communication is something else!

Hi Susie, thanks for the question. We’d like to make the tool available to as many carers as possible. Professional and non-Professional. After-all, many of the same challenges are faced.

If you would like to discuss I’d be very pleased to arrange a call.

edited by Moderator to remove personal email address


Hi Honey Badger, thanks for engaging on this topic. You are quite correct in that platform has traditionally been exclusively available to NHS staff, and private healthcare organisations.

Given the acute pressures of COVID-19, and the acceleration of technology within healthcare we are now exploring the value of the tool for wider groups, including carers both professional and non-professional.

If you would be amenable we would greatly value the opportunity to discuss the big problems faced by non-professional carers that could be improved through communication or access to advice & guidance via our tool.

There is no cost associated with this, and we would be hugely grateful to learn more about how we can add value.

It’s our mission as a company to build the largest communication network in healthcare, for the doctor, the nurse, the carer and in time, the patient.

Open to your ideas and looking forward to talking!



I’ve been a somewhat sceptical cynic for pretty much all of my life, and I think that once the Covid 19 problem is done and dusted, the unpaid carers will be dropped quicker than I binned my wife’s cack filled knickers this evening, (I’d cut them off with a pair of scissors, there was no way I was dragging them off all the way down her legs in that state).

I just can’t see this surviving long-term as a help for unpaid carers: can you imagine what it would do to every GP surgery in the country if the 5 million plus unpaid carers had instant access?

Dear Ayjay, I very much agree with you, and I’m grateful for the hard question.

A simple app can not possibly hope to solve every question and challenge faced by carers, yet we hope to explore the possibility that a new channel of communication between carer and clinician might help for some things.

Your point around sustainability is a very valid one. If technology can provide an advantage, and I believe we have seen a glimmer of potential during this crisis through video consultation, I would very much like to understand how we might be able to support carers in a way that would be sustainable, not just for COVID-19 but beyond. This generally means starting small, and in a focussed way.

Is there, for example, a particular type of question, which perhaps with a picture could be relatively quick to answer providing you have access to a GP, Tissue viability nurse or Community nurse?

Many thanks for the suggestion by Honey Badger. I direct messaged Michael Carers UK with the suggestion of a questionnaire, and soon hope to be in a position soon to ask in which ways better access to clinical advice and guidance might help.


I would welcome such an app as this. However current processes at my GP practice actively discourage any direct communication with a GP. Even emails must be sent to the admin address and clinically untrained staff decide whether an email is forwarded to a named GP or any GP in the practice. You cannot phone a GP even in emergency, you have to phone admin who once again will use their untrained clinical judgement to decide if you can get an appointment to be phoned by a GP. This is generally in 5-10 days. If you want a named or practice specialist GP (e.g COPD or diabetes) then it is generally at least two weeks. There is a duty doctor list but that does not open until 08:00. If you are not in the first twenty or so in the queue then you wait until tomorrow to try again. Generally that queue reaches 20+ by 08:00:02.

It is rare that once the GP does ring you (plus or minus 2 hrs from the appointment time) that you are offered a face to face appointment. You are sometimes encouraged to photograph your symptoms if appropriate but you must download them and attach them to an email which must go through admin.

The GPs are delighted with this way of working, it gives them more time off and rarely do they have to deal face to face with those ghastly individuals called patients. Given the autonomy afforded GP practices why would they voluntarily change this working.

And to make things worse admin only works from 9:00 to 16:00 and the practice closes for 90 minutes for lunch.

Recently I was asked to take something to the surgery 5 miles away. On arrival I was expected to use an intercom. There was a notice saying to press the buzzer ONCE and wait. I waited over 5 minutes. Two others arrived, buzzed, and waited. Finally someone came to the door!!
If I do get to speak to a doctor, it’s not my doctor, but a locum I’ve never met.
I usually have an annual blood check, I only have one kidney.
I sent a message via the on line prescription ordering system.
Was told to ring and speak to a doctor. Now given up trying!
I do not live in a covid hotspot, but in the New Forest, with one of the lowest rates in the country!
I have zero confidence in the practice now. I’m 68, been a patient there since I was 16.

Locked, usual reasons .