A new trend in healthcare is here and oh yes... here to stay and in time will be in Nigeria too.
It's the "Skype Doctors"s trend that gives doctors the opportunity to earn as much as £180,000 a year to carry out webcam appointments from their homes.
With this handsome pay, doctors are quitting surgeries to work for private firms that charge patients £30 for a 20-minute online consultation.
And a growing numbers of patients are willing to pay these fees as it is so difficult to get a face-to-face appointment quickly. Many have to wait three weeks for a consultation and at some surgeries the only way to guarantee being seen is to queue outside at dawn.
But experts say Skype-style appointments are potentially unsafe as doctors are unfamiliar with patients and may miss vital symptoms.
Surgeries across England are in crisis with rising numbers of GPs retiring early, pursuing careers overseas or quitting to be locums. Campaigners fear practices are being left more short-staffed by doctors leaving to work for firms offering online consultations.
One, Talktoadoctor.co.uk, is recruiting GPs to earn £180,000 a year from home. Bosses say demand has trebled in three years due to ‘widespread frustration’ among patients unable to get appointments at surgeries.
Talktoadoctor.co.uk has 750 part and full-time GPs giving webcam consultations
Patient Concern’s Roger Goss said: ‘Why should doctors be able to make so much money for not even seeing patients face to face?’
A recent job listing promises successful salaries of ‘over £180k per annum’ for working from home. Recruits will be paid a £1,000 bonus for passing online training first time.
The firm is also advertising for GPs to work part-time or adhoc shifts. They can earn up to £1,000 a month though bosses would not disclose the hourly rate.
The company uses a similar webcam system to Skype, whereby doctors speak to patients anywhere in the UK over the phone while assessing them on a computer screen.
Managing director Doniert MacFarlane insisted that if patients had any particularly worrying symptoms they would be told to see a GP face to face.
Another firm like, Push Doctor, charges patients £25 for a ten-minute webcam consultation. A third company, Medelinked, last month announced it would offer more webcam consultations.
An independent review of the scheme by consultancy firm Mott MacDonald found some surgeries are having to offer GPs extra cash to get them to work. It also found patients are snubbing Sunday afternoon appointments due to ‘entrenched behaviours’.
It's only a matter of time before doctors start "skype diagnosis" in Nigeria too...we are so close already.