Comment: Self-diagnosis plan is crazy

'Why should our patients have to go on the internet to self-diagnose?' Picture: Greg Macvean
'Why should our patients have to go on the internet to self-diagnose?' Picture: Greg Macvean
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SUGGESTING people should self-diagnose is crazy. People need to see a doctor. They have to be face-to-face with a doctor to tell them exactly what’s wrong with them. What are we leading ourselves into?

Why should our patients have to go on to the internet or anywhere else to self-diagnose. That is dangerous. What that says is doctors are surplus to requirements if patients can do it themselves on the internet. I do not think so – let’s be responsible here.

We already don’t have enough beds. If patients are left to diagnose themselves we will need double the number of beds we’ve actually got because most people are not medically trained. It’s totally unacceptable.

Outpatient clinics are being cancelled and people are being sent back to their GPs, but if they need referred then the GP has got to refer them again and they go back to the bottom of the waiting list. Cancelled appointments are a big problem – many patients are waiting 36 weeks, some even up to 80 weeks. I’m already hearing from patients with appointments at the end of this year, which suggests many new patients coming in will be forced to wait until 2015 to get seen.

Scotland’s health service can’t get staff, appointments are being cancelled, waiting times are getting longer and longer. We don’t even know how many patients we’ve got who are waiting for appointments that are cancelled, cancelled, cancelled.

They’re cancelling clinics and they’re cancelling appointments – that is against the patients’ charter. The Patient Rights (Scotland) Act 2011 is not worth the paper it’s written on these days. It’s supposed to give people guidance on how long they will have to wait and what the protocols are, but that has gone out the window. Scotland drew up that charter to give patients a guideline. It’s an absolute joke.

What are we playing at here? It’s high time we launched a proper investigation into our health service in Scotland because there’s something badly wrong with it.

I’m not saying that the Government’s neglecting us but we’ve got to look at this afresh. We must find out exactly what the problem is because it’s a big problem. It has got out of hand.

• Margaret Watt is the Chair of Scotland Patients Association