The NHS has been accused of “wanting less and less” to have to do with patients after announcing a series of remote-only GP roles for £85 an hour.
The work-from-home offers GPs a three-month contract with the ability to “deliver online digital consultations” via video or phone calls to patients, paid just under £3,000 per week or nearly £3,000. 13,000 per month.
It comes amid mounting evidence that ‘telemedicine’, while convenient for doctors, can be ‘disastrous’ for some patients.
The heartbroken son of a man who died after being misdiagnosed during a remote GP appointment called the move a “stupid idea”.
James Dow, 61, died in his van after a foot ulcer ruptured after a remote consultation with his GP missed his symptoms.
The new job from the GP role is advertised on the NHS website with pay of £85 per hour.
Postman James Dow, 61, was found dead in his delivery van in Hampshire in October 2021 after his doctor said an ulcer on his foot was gout during a telephone consultation.
James’ wife, Nina, 54, and their two children, Theo, 26, and Jamie, 23, were devastated by the loss.
A coroner ruled that Mr Dow’s death was caused by the ruptured ulcer on his foot.
An inquest heard how her GP had told her ‘let’s go with’ a gout diagnosis after she failed to mention the discoloration and ulcer.
His son Theo said he fears a situation like his father’s could happen again if NHS doctors continue to push for remote consultations.
The electrician said, ‘Remote dating is a stupid idea, considering what happened to my dad.
“Since Covid, obviously there have been a lot fewer face-to-face appointments, and I’m sure there were a lot of people who weren’t treated properly.
‘GPs and medical professionals have a duty of care to their patients and remote appointments will mean a lower level of care and incorrect treatment.
“It seems the NHS wants less and less involvement in their profession.”
The remote GP position is offered by private company Medloop, which describes itself as “an NHS secured digital provider built in collaboration with primary care physicians to better serve practice care networks and patient needs” and is Advertise on the NHS jobs page.
Mr Dow’s family and friends by his coffin following his death in October 2021
Mr Dow’s eldest son Theo, 26, (left) said: “Remote dating is a stupid idea, considering what happened to my dad.”
Over the three months offered, the pay for the job would come to £38,675, assuming the doctor was paid for seven hours of work a day rather than eight.
If the GP worked in the role for a year, he could get a whopping salary of around £154,000, just £10,000 less than the Prime Minister’s salary of £164,000.
The job description states: ‘This job may include telephone triage and remote video consultation; ideal for those who cannot keep an appointment in their own home, residential or nursing care setting.
“We’re particularly focused on working in underserved areas, helping to address health care disparities across the country,” seeing about four patients an hour.
The job, which pays more than five times the average UK hourly wage, comes amid a crushing NHS crisis that has seen nurses and paramedics strike over wages and increasing workloads within the health service. that falls apart
A Band 5 nurse earns around £13.84 an hour, according to the NHS pay website.
The nurses are not supposed to care for more than eight patients at a time, with all their work on site, but the actual number is believed to be much higher due to the staffing crisis.
According to Payscale, the average hourly rate for someone working in the ambulance service is £11.92 per hour.
Growing data suggests that, in many cases, remote care lags behind face-to-face consultations.
An inquest heard how Mr Dow’s GP had told him ‘let’s go with’ a gout diagnosis after he failed to mention the discolouration and ulcer.
Mr Dow passed away while many surgeries restricted face-to-face appointments due to Covid
A November 2021 study “raised concerns that the NHS and hospital administration may be overusing telemedicine as a cost and time saving measure, rather than being in the best interest of patients.”
The research, which looked at the role of telemedicine in the treatment of rheumatology patients, found that about 93 percent of doctors and 86 percent of patients rated telemedicine as “worse” than face-to-face appointments.
One of the co-authors of the study, Felix Naughton, from the University of East Anglia, said: “Patients vary quite a bit in terms of their needs and what their complaints are.
‘We found that basic medication registration and renewal appointments seemed easy enough to do over the phone, at least for most people.
‘It’s what you would call pretty basic records. There was a general feeling that these were the most convenient.
“In those kinds of circumstances, a long-term health condition that’s relatively well controlled, a remote visit is likely to be relatively straightforward.”
However, he added: “People with more complex conditions, or who have undiagnosed complex conditions, in particular, have some potential risks.
“From our study with rheumatology patients who have quite complex conditions, they might have a hard time developing a trusting relationship with a doctor which is really crucial for complex conditions, that there is that medical trust.
A convoy of Royal Mail vans (pictured above) took part in Mr Dow’s funeral procession
“And in some cases, there was a fear that it could be risky for them when they have flare-ups or rapidly worsening conditions.
“There were concerns around some patients that they might not receive a quick response to an urgent request in a fast enough time if they were only seen remotely.
“It may be that a GP is missing a key element of their condition due to the difficulty of communicating remotely rather than face to face.”
Professor Naughton said that although his work has been done on rheumatology patients, there are also a number of concerns with people struggling with their mental health being offered remote appointments.
He said people from low socioeconomic groups might not benefit from telemedicine when it comes to mental health issues, just as the elderly or those with less technology or English proficiency might struggle to communicate digitally or over the phone.
The professor said: “Being open and allowing patients a say in how they communicate and maybe a good way to ensure people aren’t deprived as a result.”
A spokesman for the Royal College of General Practitioners defended the role, insisting that “good, safe and appropriate care” can be delivered remotely.
Professor Kamila Hawthorne, President of the Royal College of GPs, said: “For years GPs and our teams have delivered care and services in a variety of ways, be it in person, over the phone, by video call or even by text. and Email.
‘More efficient use of technology in the NHS is a good thing, and good, safe and appropriate care can be delivered remotely, and many patients prefer the convenience it offers.
“We must move away from the narrative that care delivered remotely is ‘bad,’ while care delivered in person is ‘good.’
‘NHS general practice and different GP practices will work in different ways to ensure that the right in-person and remote services are available to meet the healthcare needs of their patient population, and are currently coping. to the intense workload and pressures of the workforce. ‘
A spokesperson for NHS England said: ‘The number of face-to-face GP appointments has increased steadily since the start of the pandemic.
“GPs have seen more people and delivered millions more appointments every month than ever before, and the latest data shows that in November, the NHS delivered more than 31 million GP appointments, an increase of 18 per cent. in November 2019”.
Medloop was contacted for comment.