AS A former digital minister, Matt Hancock is a convert to electronic communication. “Right now, Tesco has a more sophisticated system than the NHS,” he enthused. “They know who you are through loyalty cards, where you shop, through store IDs, what you buy, the items scanned at the checkout.”
Understandably, the Health and Social Care Secretary’s latest wheeze is for hospitals to send out all future appointments, and letters, by email rather than mail in order to save costs. He wants this achieved by 2021. Yet, while Mr Hancock’s ambition is laudable, he loses sight of the fact that there will be some NHS users – the elderly in particular – who are not au fait with new technology or are still waiting for broadband coverage that he, himself, promised long ago.
As such, the best prescription should be for hospitals, and GP surgeries, to ask patients, at the start of treatment, if they want appointments sent by text message, email or post. It should be their choice. And that would leave time for Mr Hancock to finalise the long-overdue Green Paper on social care which he keeps putting off.