Helen Martin: This is not the Scotland we should be aiming for

East Craigs Medical Practice has insufficient GP partners to manage the facility.
East Craigs Medical Practice has insufficient GP partners to manage the facility.
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CHECKING any new health concern out with a local pharmacist before taking up a GP’s time is fair enough. They know if they can help, provide an over-the-counter solution, or if a doctor is needed.

It’s a real-life, face-to-face, physical consultation with a qualified person.

READ MORE: NHS 24 to decide if you’re sick enough to see a doctor

But now trials to eke out GP services include a phone call to a disembodied NHS 24 nursing advisor who can’t even see you, visiting a website, or asking a surgery receptionist to decide whether or not you qualify for a doctor’s appointment.

The Scottish Government now says even those referred to out-patient clinic hospital appointments will in many cases be dealt with by phone or video-link.

READ MORE: Kevan Christie: How we the public can help over-stretched GPs

The Scottish NHS is beyond crisis. If physical examinations become a rarity and the first triage step involves someone whose job is essentially office admin, more and more people who can afford it will switch to private health insurance, and thus more of our scarce GPs will move to the private sector.

This is not the Scotland our government should aim for.