Another damned good lesson in cutting government spending could be learned from our colleagues in Britain, this time by paying heed to British Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
Alf normally would avoid having much to do with someone called Jeremy, except Clarkson. In this case he is willing to make another exception.
Jeremy Hunt is championing the idea of saving big bucks by getting rid of traditional doctor’s surgeries. Instead we would have our appointments conducted on iPads and Skype, and test results delivered by text message.
The Daily Mail tells the story here, although it has plundered stuff from the Sunday Express for its report.
The Sunday Express reported that NHS bosses are importing the idea from India and believe the changes would cut £2.9bn almost immediately, a good chunk of the £20bn the NHS must save to fill its funding gap.
The ideas apparently were outlined by health minister Dan Poulter last week.
At least, he was described by the Mail as “health minister Dan Poulter”, although a few weeks ago he was referred to as the newly appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health.
Alf suggests another saving by getting rid of either him or Hunt.
But that’s by the way.
The ideas are contained in a Department of Health report called Digital First, which is banging on about the role of things digital and their application to things medical (not the same as the digit which Alf’s doc regularly rams up his rear end).
It proposes supplying community nurses with iPads in rural areas and making more use of Skype video calling between GPs and patients. Health assessments would be completed online and ‘augmented’ with video calls.
Mobile phone ‘apps’ would be used by doctors to access lab reports and health records, while negative test results would be sent to patients by text message rather than delivered in person.
Health chiefs believe the new system would reduce ‘needless’ appointments that take up too much staff time.
Inevitably, not everybody thinks this is a good idea.
Doubtless the grouches are coming from lefties and greenies.
However, critics say the plans would create a two-tier health service, where those who are less technologically able – particularly the elderly – would be left behind, and the trust between doctor and patient eroded.
Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham apparently described the reforms as ‘dangerous’ and said older patients would miss out on the care they needed
But stuff him.
The report says that every one per cent reduction in face-to-face appointments will save the health service £200m.
That’s not to be sneezed at, and if a few oldies were to pop off prematurely because they can’t hack it in the digital age…
Well, that’s a few more oldies who won’t be requiring their super any more and won’t be making extravagant use of their Gold Cards.