Proposals to transfer some NHS services onto the web to help ease pressure off GP surgeries have been condemned by charities helping people suffering from long-term health conditions.
The government announced last week that holding Skype clinics and offering other online services would cut costs by £3bn, as well as provide more accessible care to patients confined to their homes.
Health minister Dan Poulter said the move would “make life easier for patients” could result in a more convenient service for people suffering from conditions such as diabetes, dementia and heart disease.
However, Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director at the British Heart Foundation, told the Independent that while he welcomed advances in technology, the proposals were “unlikely to benefit the significant number of heart patients who are elderly or from deprived parts of the community and may not have access to the internet”.
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt called for an increase in online services several weeks ago. He would like doctors appointments, repeat prescriptions and advice lines to move online during the next two years.
A Department of Heath report entitled Digital First details plans in which doctors would read patients’ data on smartphones, and nurses would carry iPads.
It is hoped by the government that internet services will help cut costs and compensate for a £20bn funding deficit.