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NHS services may move to internet


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.



Readers' comments (4)

  • Home based MRI telemetry - yes I like it! But first could my GP surgery answer the phone within 25 minutes please!
    Seriously should we give a thought to those who do not or cannot access the internet. Figures vary but usually the proportion is >20%

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  • What great news - and I agree with Patrick (above) the proportion of people who do not have internet access is low, whilst we should provide for them we should not let this detract from the benefits of making this provision.

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  • It would be great to at least have the option. If you have access and skill to use the technology why not. There are some things that will remain better to have face to face consultations, but there are lot's of things that would benefit from doing on-line.

    Why can't I have the option to book an appointment on-line or to have a skype review for my Asthma, especially as a working adult where the need to make phone calls or see the nurse/GP just to confirm that everything is stable, causes all sorts of inconvenience. Why can't I order a repeat prescription for my inhaler on-line in between reviews?

    This will mean the receptionist will have more time to deal directly with those who don't have access to the technology and likewise for nurse and GP.

    The real trick is not to try and do one size fits all, that will risk exclusion and all of it's associated problems. If I can opt to do automated check in or talk to the receptionist at my Dentist, I can't see why a similar mixed model is not possible elsewhere.

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  • assuming the NHS are going to provide all of the equipment to individuals as well as lessons and constant support if required in their use!

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