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David Oliver: Will robotic automation solve social care?

BMJ 2018; 363 doi: (Published 21 November 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;363:k4854

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Re: David Oliver: Will robotic automation solve social care?

Oliver is right to question the fanfare of the bright new future coming from the IPPR. Let us pause for a moment and look at automation in our current social encounters. A coffee from an automated machine is less satisfying than a coffee poured by a friend, sitting at a table where more friends gather. A vending machine does not give the same comfort that a familiar canteen cook can give in laughter, rapport and social engagement. I wonder if a placebo is as effective when given by a vending machine rather than a person who is talking to you?

In our ambition to improve, innovate and forge technology to health and social care, there is a worry we may be missing the obvious.

Take a look at the current French suggestion (1)

(1) Care package: the French postal workers helping lonely older people.

Competing interests: No competing interests

28 November 2018
Robert W Howe
Lostwithiel Medical Practice
Lostwithiel Medical Practice, North St, Lostwithiel, Cornwall