Many patients are unhappy with the move towards “telehealth” appointments. Some 26 percent said they are “significantly concerned” about a missed or incorrect diagnosis, 34 percent are “fairly” concerned and 29 percent “slightly”, with only 11 percent “not at all concerned”.
Just 12 percent preferred a consultation by video call compared with 66 percent who want an in-person appointment. Just over half would rather wait for an in-person appointment while 39 percent would accept a next-day video consultation.
Older people were more unhappy about remote consultations, a poll of 1,500 people by Redfield & Wilton Strategies found.
The findings come as NHS Digital revealed that in December only 61.1 percent of appointments were in-person and 34.7 percent by phone. In 2019 it was 79.5 percent face-to-face and phone-only was 13.8.
Dennis Reed, of campaign group Silver Voices, said: “Many older people are not comfortable using remote technology and certainly don’t want to describe intimate symptoms over the phone.”
Rachel Power, boss of the Patients Association, said the poll backed up its own findings. She said there is frustration at not even getting through to the surgery and wishes being disregarded.
“We know general practice is under enormous pressure but millions of patients have struggled to get appointments of any kind. This isn’t acceptable,” she added.
Dr Farah Jameel, at the BMA doctor body, said: “Remote consultations have enabled GPs to prioritise and see patients who clinically need face-to-face appointments more quickly.”
However he said it is “not perfect or appropriate for all” and urged better tech and GP staffing.