A prominent GP has called for an iPad for every doctor and a nurse to allow them to conduct consultations via Skype, thus taking NHS ‘into the modern world’.
Speaking at an event organised by the NHS Tower Hamlets Clinical Commissioning Group, the group’s chairman and east London GP Sir Sam Everington suggested remote consultations conducted through the means of modern technology could ease the pressure felt by doctors in overpopulated regions.
"The iPad, iPhone and the ability to Skype-consult is the equivalent of the stethoscope that was essential to me years ago, every single clinician should be provided with those tools - it should be the norm," he said.
The comments came as the group was discussing what issues the next government should tackle urgently in the first 100 days in power. Sir Sam pointed to the fact that in some parts of London, GPs are forced to see up to 60 patients a day, a number he considers unsustainable.
The Department of Health has already ploughed millions of pounds into pilot schemes assessing the effectiveness of e-consultations - such as over Skype or email.
Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents trusts, said a balance needs to be found between stabilising the NHS and transforming it as they have become "two polarised views beginning to throw rocks at each other".
He said the NHS deficit will be £1bn by the end of 2014/15, while it has been projected to reach more than £2bn a year later.
In addition to Skype-consulting, Sir Sam proposed GP surgeries should operate more after school hours to make healthcare more accessible to young people while personal responsibility of patients and self-care should be encouraged.
"We do too much for patients, we actually need to be handing over in a much much bigger way," he said.
"We have to now in these financially challenging times, look at the patient as part of the workforce, their families and the local community."