Danger of making fast access to GPs just for tech-savvy patients
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Age UK said online and telephone consultations can be a nightmare for those who are hard of hearing or struggle to communicate. The charity’s director Caroline Abrahams said: “It’s really important that any older person who wants a face-to-face GP appointment is able to get one. Before the pandemic about one in 10 GP appointments was virtual and nine in 10 in person, but during the worst of the pandemic that was completely reversed.
“Looking ahead, as life settles down we will probably need an equal balance between the two.”
The Daily Express has heard from readers who have struggled to see their GP during the pandemic. Patricia Sowden, 65, of East Yorkshire, said her husband had been suffering from back pain for 10 weeks.
He spoke to doctors and other healthcare professionals on the phone six times before being offered a face-to-face appointment.
Patricia said: “Just trying to get in and out of the car, get a cup of tea, in and out of bed – so painful.” She said: “I don’t think you can be a doctor unless you look at your patient.”
Age UK has heard from patients who have given up trying to contact their GP due to their surgery’s reliance on digital technology.
Ms Abrahams said: “We must be very careful not to sleepwalk into a situation in which someone who is savvy with a smartphone has far quicker and readier access to a GP than a person who is not online.”
She added there was nothing wrong with digital contact, as long as it wasn’t mandatory.
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