Skype calls could no longer be for just keeping in touch with far-flung pals after plans were announced for GPs to conduct consultations via video call.
David Cameron announced the scheme, which would bring 24/7 convenience to patients, would be piloted in nine areas in England and it is already used by Moss Side doctor Sirfraz Hussain.
Practices will now apply for a share of a £50million ‘Challenge Fund’ for 2015/16 to become ‘pioneer’ surgeries.
The Prime Minister, speaking to BBC Radio 4, revealed the pilot had been a ‘great success’, believing the scheme could ease the mounting pressure on A & E wards.
MM queried how the public would react to the opportunity of a Skype consultation, if it were offered to them. We asked:
Would you feel comfortable with a Skype consultation with your GP?
The Manchester consensus suggested that the nature of the illness would dictate the option of a Skype consultation.
SERIOUS ISSUE: Skype calls would be wasted on ‘petty’ colds says Josh Holt
Josh Holt, 17, a business trainee from Sale, said: “It depends on how serious it would be, it would have to be serious, because if it was quite a petty thing like a cold or an infection, then I wouldn’t consider it.”
Anthony O’Connor, 41, a builder from Salford highlighted the fact that it wouldn’t generally work for physical examinations.
He said: “If it wasn’t too personal then it would be a good idea.
“If it’s a lump or a condition they have to touch or feel like a physical examination, then it wouldn’t work.”
Matthew, 27, from Salford, said: “I wouldn’t be really arsed, but if you’re working full-time it would be really hard to get an appointment, even on Skype.
“I think the problem with GP’s was never that they weren’t available, it’s that they are always arranging appointments on their terms.”
PERSONAL TOUCH: Jonathan Nash insists the doctor-patient relationship would have to be strong
Jonathan Nash, 22, a student living in Fallowfield, suggested it would work if the patient was already comfortable with their GP in person.
He said: “If I had a relationship with them where I’d seen them in person before, then I wouldn’t have a problem, though I feel like you get more reassurance from them by seeing them in person.
“It would be a more reassuring experience than a phone call, because you can actually see the person’s reaction, it adds a personal dimension.”
Aliah Blake, 43 from Wales, was conscious of her negative experiences at GP surgeries offered her over the years and was not interested in a Skype consultation.
She said: “I don’t trust much in GP’s if I’m honest. I feel like they’re just drug-pushers these days, giving every patient anti-depressants.
“Too many medical mistakes are made by them. They ruin people’s survival instinct, feeding too much negativity. I think individually, they do not care about the patient, so no, I would not even think about it.”
But the convenience the option offers was a bonus for others.
ALL THE SMALL THINGS: Hannah Boote says Skype calls would be great for minor issues
Hannah Boote, 22, a student from Stafford, said: “I think it would help because sometimes you need to speak to them right away, even it’s just a small concern.
“I think it would be perfect for the small things, the one where you just need a one-minute conversation and not go through the hassle of arranging an appointment.”
Shirley Hirwin, 45 from Bury, echoed this opinion, she said, “I think it’s a great idea, it can be a waste of time going to see them in person, as it’s so overrun and you might just need a quick opinion.”
David Cowburn, 27, a taxi driver from Salford, highlighted the benefits it could provide for children.
He said: “My partner’s got three kids, so it’s hard work trying to get them in to seem them when they’re available. It really annoys us, all the waiting around, so I’d definitely do that.”
However, he also warned that hypochondriacs could manipulate the system.
He said, “Your gonna get people over-worrying and wanting to speak to them all the time if they can though.”
Neil Taylor, 22, a Librarian from Blackley, said: “If it was a really severe issue it wouldn’t work. It just doesn’t seem right to be talking to someone on a computer. It wouldn’t make me feel better at all, technology shouldn’t push that boundary.”
Student Rebecca Barnes, 17 from Dukinfield, preferred the more professional touch to a consultation.
She said: “It would be too strange for me, I’d rather go in.
“That would be far more professional, the way it’s supposed to be. Even if I really trusted them, I’d much prefer to go in.”
Image courtesy of Susannah Hoffheins via YouTube with thanks