As the NHS creaks and groans its way through the toughest of winters with ever increasing demand, budget cuts and staff shortages, new data reveals that patients missing their appointments cost the health service £1billion last year.
NHS Digital statistics reveal that nearly eight million hospital appointments were missed without cancellation which could have funded one million cataract operations or 250,000 hip replacements.
To boot, more than nine million Brits were sent home from A&E with just fix-it-yourself guidance probably available from a pharmacist.
Our GP colleagues, stretched beyond their own limits, have now recommended the once dreaded Dr Google for the first time in a bid to ease the pressure on surgeries.
The Royal College of GPs says the online search engine should be used as part of a ‘Three before GP’ mantra which also includes using self-care or checking symptoms at the local pharmacy.
Dr Google’s top search is whether tonsillitis is contagious. Somewhat worrying then that the top results generated by google-bots differ over the answer. Let’s hope users can remember to take the robotic advice with a pinch of salt and note that ‘common things occur commonly’. Cyberchondria is a modern day phenomenon caused by online self-diagnosis.
Another DIY area where mistakes can prove costly is finance. The media and the online investing community is adept at suggesting novice investors go-it-alone with once-in-a-lifetime opportunities and plugs for exciting new companies or products.
Yet investors can become vulnerable without a clear plan or an accurate idea of their risk tolerance. Complex tax implications can be overlooked and human nature means we tend to chase performance – at the expense of credible, long-term investment decisions.
The result is often far too much hard work for disappointingly mediocre returns – something the average time-challenged doctor could do without. A study by Deloitte found that only 32 per cent of DIY investors felt ‘secure’ with their retirement plan.
Investing to build stable futures is complicated, emotional and time-consuming. It requires patience and objectivity and is generally best left to trained, experienced advisers.
The internet can be a valuable resource for those with simple finances and modest investment pots but it is unlikely to meet the objectives of high-achieving doctors with challenging tax positions and several income streams. In the same way, Dr Google can help with a common cold remedy but it is most definitely not a highly-skilled medic.