Pensioners in Dundee could be left isolated if video consultations with doctors become the new normal after the coronavirus pandemic.
The Dundee Pensioners’ Forum has warned elderly people will suffer if they are not being given face to face services by health care professionals, after the Scottish Government launched a consultation into virtual appointments and their usage moving forward.
In Tayside alone, video calls between doctors and patients have risen from 20 to 1,076 per week during the coronavirus pandemic.
But Dorothy McHugh, spokeswoman for Dundee Pensioners’ Forum, has warned the rise should not lead to video calls becoming a more permanent fixture.
She said: “We appreciate how vital video consultations have been during this pandemic. But there is a difference between necessary and desirable.
“People prefer human contact because, for many, a visit to the GP or a hospital appointment will be the only time they step outside the door.
“Health professionals can tell so much more about the general wellbeing of a person through face-to-face contact, and the opportunities this allows to observe body language and other things.
“It would be such a shame if we were to go too far down the virtual road. In terms of social care, I just cannot imagine how this can be done virtually.
“A huge part of social care is the human interaction that takes place.
“If that disappears, social isolation with all its associated health and wellbeing detriments will spiral.”
The Scottish Government, along with NHS Tayside, are carrying out the latest study on Near Me, a virtual consultation service and are hoping to gauge the demand moving forward.
A government spokeswoman said: “People across Tayside are being asked for their views on how health and care services might be delivered remotely in the future.
“The Near Me team – part of a national programme known as Technology Enabled Care – is looking for feedback through a survey which can be completed online. There is also the option to feed-back by email or by phone.”
For more info visit www.nearme.scot