Like Members across this Chamber, I hold regular surgeries at which I try to give advice and assistance to constituents on any number of sensitive, emotionally charged, and for them, very often, vital, life-changing issues. So it is with GPs. For all of our lifetimes, we have gone to see doctors, sometimes in very harrowing circumstances, sometimes for minor conditions—but no longer, it seems. We are now being told that rather than that kind of personal and very private interface with a real person, we are going to have a virtual doctor. We are being told to ask Alexa—whoever it, she or he might be. This is a breach of the personal relationship that everyone deserves to have with their local doctor, and it has been described by one critic as a
“data protection disaster waiting to happen”.
Patients’ groups, doctors and privacy campaigners have said that this is a bad idea, and once the Secretary of State for Health thought so too—he said that we needed to preserve the “essential humanity” of that relationship. Now he says that we should embrace the technology of the information age. Well, T. S. Eliot said:
“Where is the wisdom...lost in information?”
He might say now, “Where is the wisdom lost in Government?”