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Independents' Day

#GPnews: Computers have made GPs 'obsolete', claims economy professor

14:00 The Government's planned state-backed GP indemnity scheme will not be sufficient to solve the problem of costly NHS negligence claims, a Tory MP has said.

Speaking at an even organised by GP indemnity organisation MPS, Conservative MP for Cheltenham Alex Chalk said that although the scheme was welcome 'we still... need to tackle the underlying issue of rising clinical negligence costs'.

He said: 'Those who suffer as a result of clinical negligence must be properly compensated and we need to safeguard access to justice, but we must also consider what society and the NHS can afford.

‘I agree with MPS that legal reform to strike this important balance should be considered and I urge the Government to continue working with MPS to explore this further.’

Referring to the new GP indemnity scheme, chief executive at MPS Simon Kayll, said that it will not address the problem related to rising clinical negligence costs.

‘The cost of claims will always need to be paid for, and will continue to increase unless the root of the issue is tackled, through legal reform,’ said Mr Kayll.

Pulse has demanded that GPs are reimbursed in full for their indemnity costs, just as hospital consultants are. This included delivering a letter signed by 300 GPs on indemnity costs to the Department of Health in September.

10:20 GPs on Twitter are less than impressed with remarks claiming GPs have become 'obsolete'.

Gerry Holtham Hodge, professor of regional economy at Cardiff Metropolitan University, was quoted in Wales Online saying: 'Health is 50% of the Welsh budget and given the demographic trends and the way things are going, if you remain with producer capture it’s going to be 60% and you won’t be able to do anything.

'I think we’ve got to say, "look, we don’t need GPs. GPs are obsolete". A computer program, it’s been proven, will diagnose 98% of ailments better than a GP because, a) it’s up to date and b) it doesn’t forget anything.

'So I would employ nurses in health centres, with a computer program and a phone line to a specialist.'

9:30 NHS England is to embark on a recruitment drive aiming to bring 5,500 nurses over from India and the Philippines, reports the Telegraph.

HEE chief executive Professor Ian Cumming told the House of Commons Health Committee yesterday: 'We are currently aiming to bring somewhere in the region of 5,500 nurses into the country internationally on an ethically based "earn, learn and return" programme.'

The newspaper says this comes as health secretary Jeremy Hunt 'sparked fury' by suggesting he would introduce a new nurse contract emulating the junior doctor contract.

The new contract, imposed last year after a lengthy dispute with the BMA, saw junior doctors entitled to less extra payment for working weekends.

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Readers' comments (7)

  • Why even have nurses if patients can rely on computers? Why not let patients use the computers themselves.

    Computer algorithms rarely diagnose. They just give a differential diagnosis of thousands of diseases that then require investigation.

    Investigations are very expensive. Hospital consultant time is a lot more expensive then GP time [although I often wonder why]. This negates the financial incentive.

    If litigation continues at an ever increasing rate all patients will be referred for multiple investigations.

    I do agree though that health costs due to an aging population, patient demand for immediate access and new advances in healthcare are escalating at a rate that will not be affordable by society. I see no easy answer to the problem. Perhaps investigations will become very much cheaper. Even then what will we do with new symptomless pathology that is discovered that is not causing any significant issues regarding morbidity and may or may not lead to increased mortality?

    At sometime [and I would suggest now] there will need to be brakes on all forms of healthcare delivery other than red flag symptoms and diseases.

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  • In fact why have consultants? Patients can refer them selves for the necessary investigations performed by robots or ordinary people trained just to deliver the investigations. Then computers can try and make sense of the results through new algorithms!

    No doubt some of these things probably will happen. Even with, yet to be developed, AI it is going to be very difficult for AI to emulate the personal relationships that exist between clinicians and patients.

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  • Cobblers

    How about computers take over from Economy Professors?

    Less people will die.

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  • And in breaking news "Economist Gets it Wrong!"

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  • How about developing a computer algorithm to take the place of politicians. The electorate could democratically decide on a case by case basis through on line polls. It might end up bringing back capital punishment and ‘other’ potentially sensitive ‘things’, but it would be more democratic than our current pile of sh.. The country could hardly be much worse than the present. And it would take power away from the self serving money and power grabbing Politicians, and I am including medico-politicians in this.

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  • A Professor from Cardiff's second University speaks......

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  • Its alright Gerry.
    I've made my diagnosis and I didn't even need to speak to you.

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