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Minister faces backlash over claim that patients are 'comfortable' attending GP appointments online 

Health Minister Helen Whately interviewed by Sally Nugent on BBC Breakfast

Minister faces backlash over her claim that patients are ‘comfortable’ attending online appointments with their GPs

  • NHS will monitor 50,000 patients a month in their own homes in new plan
  • Helen Whatley said it was something that started during the pandemic
  • The elderly campaign group says it has received many complaints

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The Social Affairs Minister faced a backlash yesterday after claiming patients were ‘very comfortable’ with remote appointments.

Helen Whately, pictured, said the NHS would monitor up to 50,000 patients a month at home rather than in hospital as part of bed release plans

“Virtual wards” will involve patients wearing watches or finger sensors monitoring their vital signs and reporting to doctors, who will conduct video consultations.

Patients have often been denied face-to-face appointments with a GP during the Covid-19 pandemic as family doctors have switched to telephone and video.

It raised concerns among MPs and health charities that diseases such as cancer were being ignored and it left people without broadband out.

But Miss Whately told Sky News yesterday: ‘What will happen when doctors consider sending someone back to a virtual ward is considering what the setup is for the patient at home.

“It’s actually something that started being used during the pandemic and we’ve seen that a lot of people are actually very comfortable with using apps, being online, making video calls , things like that.”

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Dennis Reed of Silver Voices, which campaigns for older people, said: ‘I don’t know who the minister has spoken to – her comments certainly don’t reflect the complaints we’re getting.

Occupational health spokesman Wes Streeting warned that virtual wards “unstaffed, it’s not a hospital home, it’s home alone”.

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