Under plans put forward by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP), there will be no hospital appointments for pensioners, only a video link with a consultant.

Dr Spock will see you now, Mr Smith.

If you’re a pensioner and your family doctor thinks you need to see a specialist consultant, forget about a hospital appointment. Think, instead, of talking to the consultant via a video screen at your doctor’s surgery.

No–one, especially the elderly, likes having to travel long a distance to hospital, finding a place to park and then spending hours in a cheerless waiting room, waiting to be called.

But, unless the video consultation includes technology of the Star ship kind, how is the consultant going to examine the patient? Is it going to be like, ‘Could you hold up your knee to the camera, Mr Smith?’Grandma with doctor

Simply seeing and talking to the patient has never been the point of a specialist examination. It’s known that many older people, especially men, have difficulty describing their symptoms.

It’s part of plan proposed by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) in its Future Hospitals Programme. And if successful, could be extended into people’s homes.

It’s being trialled in four parts of the country – in Wales, at the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board; Mid Yorkshire Hospitals, Royal Blackburn Hospital, Worthing Hospital.

The Wales’ trial will be the first. The lessons learned in north Wales and the four other areas will be collated and shared to try and improve patient care across the UK.

I hope it works. But it feels like a further distancing of older people from NHS services despite their having paid into it all their working lives.

Already in England older people are being visited by District Nurses armed with questionnaires, looking for answers such as, ‘Where would you like to die?’ and ‘Would you want to be resuscitated?’

You can read what the RCP report will mean to patients here: https://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/projects/future-hospital-commission

Louise Morse

Louise Morse MA (CBT) is media and external relations manager for the Pilgrims’ Friend Society. She is a writer and speaker, and author of books on issues of old age, including dementia, published by Lion Monarch and SPCK. She is a cognitive behavioural therapist, and her Masters’ dissertation examined the effects of caring for a loved one with dementia on close relatives.

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