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The virtual GP service costs lives


I’m not alone in being scandalised by the NHS’s pivot to a “virtual GP service”, says Allison Pearson in The Daily Telegraph. Attempting to book an appointment with a doctor is like breaking into Fort Knox. Try to see someone and you have to get through online symptom-checking forms, “digital-first” Zoom consultations and yet more “eConsults”. An 84-year-old reader was told to take “a selfie in the mirror” of the moles on her back. Joy Stokes, a 69-year-old breast-cancer survivor, was “fobbed off” for four months, denied an X-ray and told to self-refer her “excruciating pain” to a physio. Her husband buried her a fortnight ago.  

Health Secretary Matt Hancock says the pandemic has taught us GP appointments “should be done remotely by default”. That’s a terrible outcome. Banks have already disappeared into a “maddening maze of Your Call is Important to Us”. You can hang on a line for 40 minutes and never hear a human voice. The bobby on the beat is now more mythical than the unicorn. “We need more humanity, not less.” Macmillan Cancer Support says up to 50,000 people are walking around with cancers undiagnosed in lockdown, and this could double by October if services aren’t fully restored. “Let the public outcry begin now.” 

Read the full article here.