back to article Another Hancock-up? UK health secretary appears in piece about controversial GP app

Health secretary Matt Hancock should focus on scrutinising health tech firms rather than endorsing them, after he appeared in an article about Babylon Health, maker of the controversial GP at Hand app. That's the general consensus about a piece that appeared in last night's London Evening Standard under the title "Technology …

  1. iron Silver badge

    He's just a typical dumb Tory who thinks we can't spot the strings of his puppet master but, just like the 80s, it is obvious to anyone with half a brain.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Close

      He's just a typical dumb Tory

      It is not a matter of dumb. All you had to do is look it up in Wikipedia. It says: He graduated from Oxford University with a 1st in Philosophy, Politics and Economics.

      Sounds familiar...

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Unhappy

        "graduated from Oxford University with a 1st in Philosophy, Politics and Economics."

        Ahh.

        The degree of choice for career bu***hitters*

        *Along with Classics (Johnson), History (Rees-Mogg) and English (Gove).

        1. MJI Silver badge

          Re: "graduated from Oxford University with a 1st in Philosophy, Politics and Economics."

          What we call history Rees Mogg calls current affairs

    2. SundogUK

      He's just a typical dumb politician...

      FIFY

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "He's just a typical dumb Tory"

      I think you'll find that being dumb isn't exclusively the province of the Tories. Or are you just taking the opportunity to make snide political remarks. Like a "typical dumb lefty".

  2. Teiwaz Silver badge

    Winners use this app!!!

    He's just a typical dumb Tory who thinks we can't spot the strings of his puppet master but, just like the 80s, it is obvious to anyone with half a brain.

    Merely Naive or just incompetent, I'd argue this article paints him as a dangerously corrupt individual.

    'Dangerous' because of the possible repercussions of pushing a tool onto the Health Service that might negatively impact patients lives.

    He might be totally innocent, but it really doesn't look at all positive. He may as well be waving a pack of fags, a pair of brand trainers and a chicken leg at the camera while mugging furiously during PMs question time.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Winners use this app!!!

      The main reason GPs don't like this service - as well as self preservation is due to the patient discrimination that it causes.

      As a GP you bid for a contract to serve an area consisting of a number of patients. You get paid a pittance per patient per year but realise that many patients won't require your services at all that year and some will 'require' being seen every other week. The money per patients averages those who use it a little to those who use it a lot.

      This app and service is not practical and suitable for those that have highly complex care need, multiple medications, technophobes, people who have significant mental health issues or are just very lonely. So it diverts towards attracting younger, working, agile patients who are usually less of a resource consumer.

      Now they say they are open to anyone but the reality is the patients that sign up are self selecting.

      Any GP surgery, if you take out the human element, would love to just be able to service the sort of patients that this health app services and not have to spend resources on the others (Obviously most GPs are more caring than that simple statement). However not only do they have to deal with an increasingly old population with less resources, especially in some areas and difficulty to recruit. They also find the patients that actually help fund the service are being attracted away to the 'health app' service leaving them with a higher proportion of the resource intensive patients. This has a knock on effect of stress, profitability and future recruitment.

      It is an innovative solution that causes real world knock-on effect problems.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Winners use this app!!!

        I don't see the issue - people who benefit from the app can use it, and those who can't can continue to rely on the old-fashioned GPs. Personally if I lived in the catchment area I'd definitely use it because my GP clinic are crap. Surely this app takes a little strain off clinics so they can focus more on those who need it?

        1. Is It Me
          Unhappy

          Re: Winners use this app!!!

          As someone explained further up, this takes away the funding and in a disproportionate way.

          The funding for all the people that only have a visit once every couple of years pay for those that have to visit more regularly.

          The users of the app are de-registered from their GP and registered for the app, so that removes that funding.

          The users of the app are likely to be younger and fitter and have fewer GP visits.

          This leave the GP with less funding and still having to deal with the more complicated time consuming patients.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Winners use this app!!!

            Maybe we need to pay them more for those cases, or pay differently, but we really don't want to lose innovation that replaces expensive people with cheap technology. We want the people doing the harder stuff that the machines can't do very well.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Winners use this app!!!

          Did you read my post? This app isn't to use as well as havig access to your local GP. You register as a patient with this service and therefore deregister as a patient from your current practice.

          The current practice then loses money from that patient. If an over stretched practice that couldn't recruit had a completely random selection of patients being moved to another practice (like this app) then there wouldn't be much of an issue. However the patients that are essential to the finances of the surgery move leaving the very costly patients behind and then create an unsustainable practice and it closes.

          If the payments to GPs were made on a per appointment slot basis rather than a per patient basis then there also wouldn't be so much of an issue (although they do have to spend a lot longer with the more resource needed patients).

          As an IT analogy - say you get paid the same per user for your support desk. A company then comes along and takes over the contract for all your users who are technical, that never need to call the support desk, and you are left with all the users who call every week with it issue that requires a lot of time to talk them through then you might be a bit miffed that you don't have the money now to support all these complicated users.

    2. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Winners use this app!!!

      He may as well be waving a pack of fags, a pair of brand trainers and a chicken leg at the camera while mugging furiously during PMs question time.

      Bloody hell, don't go giving him ideas!

  3. JimmyPage Silver badge
    Flame

    Credit Bill Bailey ...

    My local hospital has been closed down and replaced with an app. It tells you where to forage for medicinal herbs.

    1. JimmyPage Silver badge

      Re: Credit Bill Bailey ...

      incidentally, in the same show, he refers to the "mysterious continued existence of LinkedIn" ....

  4. Threlkeld

    Macular generation?

    I could do with some of that to patch up the holes in my vision caused by DEgeneration of the macular area of my retina.

    I don't see how an app would help me to detect that I can't see properly. Walking into furniture already does that quite effectively.

    But perhaps I can't see that because I can't see properly to read the puffery. Do I have to take a selfie of my retina and send it out on the interweb thingy?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: take a selfie of my retina and send it out on the interweb

      I'm not sure. Does your phone have one of those "retina" displays?

  5. CharlieY

    Getting the feck straight

    It's remarkable that despite challenges over the past 18 months to evidence base and credibility of Babylon, handshaker-hancock is floating around in some virtual vacuum of a perfect world. If he'd read only this week that Babylon has now discovered that the ease of access to it's services is now encouraging people to use their service more, rather than develop their own abilities to self-care he'd realised that their footprint in the UK is probably on limited time. I suspect that Babylon will trade uniquely overseas in the next few years now they have the NHS badge of approval, which may also serve for Lord Hanshake too.

  6. Simon B-52

    "Hancock, though, appears to be a fully paid-up member of the tech can save us lobby."

    Hancock, though, appears to be a fully paid member of the tech can save us lobby.

    FTFY

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      ""Hancock, though, appears to be a fully paid-up member of the tech can save us lobby.""

      Well he could just be ignorant but he is a Conservative Minister so more like

      "Hancock, though, appears to be a fully paid-up member of the tech can pay us lobby (after we retire)."

      FTFY.

  7. Peter X

    My local GP

    My local GP recently sent me and SMS encouraging me to download this: mjog.info/NHS

    Obv. I haven't (the reviews are dire!), but are they all having to do this now?

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: My local GP

      My local GP recently sent me and SMS encouraging me to download this: mjog.info/NHS

      Obv. I haven't (the reviews are dire!), but are they all having to do this now?

      Bloody hell, the negative reviews really outnumber the good.

      Maybe the app should carry a Health Warning : May cause stress and frustration.

    2. Adrian Midgley 1

      Re: My local GP

      Really your gp?

      Or someone with your details signing his name?

  8. JohnMurray

    Seriously...is anyone asking what these outside resource organisations are doing with the NHS data they now have access to?

    After all: https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/11/14/google_swallows_up_deepmind_health_and_abolishes_independent_board/

  9. EnviableOne Bronze badge

    Unwelcome Change

    Not sure if Hancock is an improvement over Hunt as Health secretatry.

    I thought anyone would be, Hunt may have been preparing the NHS for privitisation piecemeal, but at-least he knew what he was doing.....

  10. Missing Semicolon Silver badge
    Unhappy

    All the same

    It really seems to me that there are really no people in Parliament who are actually any good at anything.

    Both sides of the House seem to actively select for members with little ability to think clearly.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: All the same

      Both sides of the House seem to actively select for members with little ability to think clearly.

      I can't recall a time in the past fifty years when parliament contained any worthwhile number of intelligent, practical people, so that's nothing new. What does appear to be new is that the quality of ministers and show minsters now always goes down when the post holder changes. Brown was a worse prime minister than Blair. Corbyn is a worse leader than (even) Milliband. Most ministerial changes result in an idiot being replaced by an idiot squared. When that revolting toff Cameron resigned, I honestly believed things couldn't get worse in terms of Prime Minister, and Bagpss May has proved me handsomely and repeatedly wrong. There's a few people who have yet to prove their thoroughgoing incompetence - like or more likely not, Hammond is doing a much better job than Greasy Osborne, and Javid seems to be awaiting an opportunity to fuck up.

      But as a general rule, the political parties are proving there is no absolute zero when measuring competence.

    2. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: All the same

      Both sides of the House seem to actively select for members with little ability to think clearly.

      There are good and capable people like Sarah Wollaston, Stella Creasey and Andrew Tyrie who do their best regardless of whether or not their party is in government. Of course these are not then the people who are going to be awarded with ministerial posts, but at least we know they are not consequently going to be compromising their principles.

      (Just remembered that Tyrie stood down at the last GE. Oh well.)

  11. MJI Silver badge

    Matt Hancock

    Lets think

    I think a bit of a pillock covers it well.

    Well meaning but a bit useless.

    Most politicians are well meaning, but also a lot are a bit of a pillock.

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