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What Affect Would ‘Skype-style’ Doctors’ Appointments Have on Medical Negligence Figures?

Chloe Sullivan, a Medical Negligence Specialist here at Hodgkinsons Solicitors Skegness, investigates what may happen to medical negligence rates if ‘Skype-style’ Doctors’ appointments were to be introduced.

What Affect Would ‘Skype-style’ Doctors’ Appointments Have on Medical Negligence Figures?

The UK Government recently proposed their ‘NHS 10-Year Plan’ which explains how a cash injection of £20billion for health services will be spent. The plan reveals that there will be a service re-design and an online health care revolution in order to reduce spending, time used and stress levels on staff.

It is estimated that each year in the UK there are 94 million outpatient appointments, costing an average of £8billion. Research suggests that 30 million of these outpatient consultations do not require a hospital or GP visit.

To reduce the number of annual appointments to save both time and money, the introduction of ‘Skype-style’ videos have been proposed. These videos will act as GP visits and hospital consultations. The online service will allow patients to book online appointments with specialist Doctors. It has been claimed that the program will have the capacity to carry out millions of NHS appointments per year.

The introduction of technology is said to be the key to saving costs, but can technology replace the value of a face-to-face Doctor’s appointment? Countless GPs have warned that in many cases symptoms can only be spotted by direct contact and therefore if this is not possible, it could potentially lead to a failure to diagnose. When a Doctor fails to diagnose a patient appropriately, they can suffer as a result of this which results in medical negligence.

NHS England believe that e-Clinics and online consultations will allow patients with chronic problems to be better looked after. However, how likely are online consultations to work if they cannot listen to your lungs or heart rate, take blood or perform any medical tests? It will be impossible for such programs to provide any type of examination other than a superficial observation. What someone sees through a camera can often appear much different in real life. If the patient’s illness or condition appears differently through a lens, this will increase the possibility for medical negligence to occur as Doctors may fail to diagnose or treat the patient appropriately.

The proposed strategy places individuals with greater control over their own care and encourages them to manage long-term illnesses themselves. For many it is likely that this will create a sense of panic, overwhelming responsibility and belief that they should only turn to the NHS in very serious circumstances. This provides the risk of patients being undiagnosed – medical negligence

For the elderly, who are less computer savvy, the scheme is said to be devastating. It is feared that such plans will be the cause of death for many of the elderly generation therefore the oldest, most vulnerable should not lose access to the current services.

It has been claimed by NHS England that the e-Clinics will allow longer, more valuable, face-to-face consultations at the touch of a button. There are many questions to ask about the e-Clinic proposal. As the service will be used by millions all over the UK there are fears that the service may become slow and unreliable due to high levels of traffic and congestion causing it to crash. There is also the issue of hacking which has been experienced in the NHS many times before.

Whilst the plan proposes many positive strategies, the patient must remain the priority to ensure that the level of medical negligence issues decrease. If you have experienced negligence at the hands of a medical professional, our specialist Solicitors can discuss the possibility of bringing a claim for compensation. Whether you are located in Skegness, Boston, Sleaford, Spalding, Grimsby or beyond, we can help you. To get started call us on 01754 897150 or visit