NEWS: Important to spot the ‘fake’

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Being healthy for any age, and I admit grateful for being so, over the years I have been to my GP practice very few times so when the need comes for me to go, I’ll probably be asked a range of questions linked to the health problems that can affect a man of my age.

But in engaging with the NHS I will have confirmed that I still exist and live at the address it holds.

The Press has picked up on the number of ‘ghost patients’ that exist on the records of GP practices nationally.

By ghost patients I mean people who may have moved or passed away.

It is unlikely that an average GP practice has the time to mailshot everyone that is registered with it, and it is unwise to assume that the multitude of computerised databases we are all on ‘talk’ to each other effectively.

It maybe worthwhile highlighting easy options on the internet to inform our GPs of major changes in personal circumstances so that the problem can be dealt with.

The term Donald Trump coined, fake news, may survive longer than other catchphrases until it’s understood that people often find it difficult to tell the difference between a true story and what is made up.

This applies whether someone is reading a newspaper or scrolling down their mobile phone.

It will be challenging to make people as informed as they were when they passed information by face-to-face contact in the age of the smart phone.

But with a multitude of important issues around, it’s important that people can tell the difference between a real story and a fake story in order to make more sense of the world we live in.

The rates for male suicide remain far too high.

A lot of people will know families who have gone through such a loss.

Now, for many their best friend is their smart phone.

I hope that the appropriate support services, such as mental health charities and churches, are providing enough help through social media platforms to help people understand what they are feeling or where help is available.

Not everyone has someone in their corner they can visit, knock on their door or say ‘put the kettle on, I need cheering up because…’.

Robert Pollard

Morpeth