Several PCTs have announced plans to replace over 50 per cent of community nurses with state-of-the-art Facebook applications that could save the NHS millions of pounds.
The application will allow patients to talk directly to a “virtual nurse” who will be able to offer over 30 responses.
The programme, run from a central control room, will remove the need for nurses to visit patients at home.
The virtual nurse comes with a range of facial expressions, including sympathetic, soothing and tired.
Professor Aaron Griffiths, a neurology consultant who developed the application, said that he was looking for a way to cut costs in the NHS when he came up with the “virtual nurse”.
He said: “The NHS wastes millions each year on staff salaries. I realised that if you dramatically cut the number of nurses working in the NHS there would be an immediate saving.”
If the “virtual nurse” detects any serious problems, a remote controlled ambulance will be sent to the patient’s house.
But the plans have met with strong opposition from unions. A spokesman for UNISON said: “Nurses are the NHS’ most valuable commodity. Replacing them with a Facebook application not only insults the profession, but sends a clear message that the NHS does not care about providing good, compassionate care.”
The new Facebook application will be introduced in London, with plans to roll it out across the country on April 1 2011.