Diagnosis by Google

Monday 9th August 2010


It seems there is nothing you can’t do these days with a click of your mouse and a broadband connection.

Reading the newspapers, checking in for your flight or doing your weekly shop, the internet has opened up a world of conveniences.

So it is no surprise that the NHS is getting in on the act with a website launch this week.

With the budget pressures on the health service, Nicola Sturgeon was criticised for spending £550,000 on the website, offers ‘non-urgent’ health information.

With much of the information contained elsewhere on the web, I was left asking the question who exactly is this website for?

People today are so empowered that Google has become their first point of diagnosis and they can choose from a whole range of remedies that can be bought over the whole counter.

As a result, their expectations are far higher.

For instance, why shouldn’t people be able to book an appointment with a GP at a time of their choice, just like you would with a restaurant or theatre booking.

Why shouldn’t blood test results be e-mailed to people rather than an anxious wait at the health centre.

And why do people have to hang around on the phone for a repeat prescription when a click of a button could do the job.

The lack of ambition in these health websites was highlighted by a report just this week, which insisted they were failing patients.

The Scottish Government talks a good game about putting patients first, but a thoughtless website like this is no good to someone without a computer, and probably no good to someone who has.

If the health secretary continues to waste cash like this, at a time when jobs and services are being cut here in Inverclyde, it won’t be just health information that is on line.

It will be her job on the line.