The NHS at 65: can technology ever replace a doctor at the bedside?

With new video-technology proposed for the NHS, Richard Kayser is seriously concerned that we won’t have enough doctors to work with it

richard_kayserI read today about a new move towards the future for the NHS – the proposed introduction of video-link technology which would allow doctors to review patients remotely over advanced video link from another hospital.

This method has been tested in the US and, according to published studies, has reduced hospital stays and even deaths. Whilst there’s no doubt that these advances can only be seen as a good thing, my major concern is the lack of available skilled doctors within trusts to be at the other end of the line. The story in the Evening Standard goes on to state that this technology will mainly be for use at weekends and nights. However for the system to be effective, an experienced consultant would need to be available somewhere within the trust.

At the end of last year I was involved in an inquest which uncovered that during the patient’s stay, although on call, there was not one senior doctor with the necessary experience available in the trust’s grounds to review the patient. Had there been one, this seven year-old’s condition would have been diagnosed, treatment started, and her death very probably prevented.

It’s one thing introducing new technology, but hospitals must be given the funds to ensure that an experienced consultant is there to use it.

This also raises the question whether technology can ever replace the doctor being present at the patient’s bedside. Only time will tell…

Current Controversies, Marcus Weatherby, Medical Negligence,
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