November 25, 2012
A BID to save nearly £3billion by slashing appointments with a doctor and treating patients via computer will put lives at risk, ministers were warned.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is planning a technological revolution that could spell the end of the traditional doctor’s surgery.
A new system of “virtual clinics” is being planned in which GPs connect with patients via iPads and Skype, an idea that NHS bosses are importing from India.
The reforms would save £2.9billion “almost immediately” and improve the lives of most patients, for example by avoiding the need to find child care during appointments, Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter said last week.
However, critics are concerned the initiative would create a two-tier NHS in which the less technologically able, particularly the elderly, would be left behind.
Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham called the plan “dangerous”, while Age said cutting the number of personal appointments would erode the vital trust between doctor and patient.