It took me a whole week to register for my GP’s new online service.
I went in to the surgery with my passport to get an 18 digit code and list of providers. But I couldn’t log in to the site and had to go back in for a new one.
Still didn’t work. Nor did a different site and another code.
When I finally got in I found my records and prescriptions are out of date.
So I had to navigate the automated phone system,hold for 20 minutes and book an appointment with the doctor for next month, before I can “conveniently access services online.”
If medical technology is that stressful for me, it must be terrifying for a lonely 80-year-old with no relatives and failing health who relies on visits from carers. Just the sort of vulnerable OAPs that a cash-strapped local authority is experimenting on.
They think it will “prove a more convenient and less intrusive method of interacting with a care worker”.
I think it proves the burghers are living in a different galaxy and their efficiency scheme is a cheap joke.
Care services across the country are in crisis, but they need proper funding and trained staff.
Because “virtual carers” can’t actually give care. They can’t change a dressing, give you a nice wash, brush your hair, make you a cuppa or just hold your hand and have a chat.
So healthcare charities and pensioner groups are rightly branding the scheme inhuman. Half of all people aged 75 in Britain live alone. There are 1.1 million over-65s who are chronically lonely and 50 per cent more likely to die early.
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs says: “GPs see patients, many of whom are widowed, who have multiple health problems such as diabetes, hypertension and depression.
“But often their main problem isn’t medical. They’re lonely. They need someone to listen to them and to find purpose in life.”
NHS Digital are involved in the Essex pilot scheme too. It’s just the sort of gimmicky “innovation” that Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt loves and would like to see nationwide.
But Cliff Rich, CEO of Contact the Elderly, isn’t convinced.
He says: “We still believe that nothing can replace the essential human need for face-to- face interaction.”
Because while new technology has revolutionised many aspects of healthcare, tablets are never going to cure the disease of loneliness.