AIRPORT-style check-ins machines are being installed at Edinburgh hospitals in a bid to speed up waiting times.
The move will see people “check in” for appointments themselves at kiosks similar to those used in airport departure areas.
The new system, which NHS Lothian said it hoped would free up time for reception staff, has sparked fears that it could harm patient care.
Edinburgh’s Royal Infirmary will install the kiosks aspart of a pilot scheme.
The new kiosks are being installed at the Western General Hospital and Edinburgh’s Royal Infirmary, as part of a pilot project, and will allow patients to bypass receptionists.
The NHS said it will allow workers to support patients who need more time and attention.
Patient groups and politicians have raised concerns that patients will struggle to use the machines and warned it could lead to staff cutbacks.
Scottish Conservative health spokesman Jackson Carlaw, said: “There is a world of difference between seld-checking in for a much anticipated holiday flight and arrving at a hospital, often in s state of some anxiety. Any pilot scheme musr take note of the fact that elderly pateitsn in particular will find talking to a dispassionate screen a very poor subsisite to talking to an experienced health receptionist.”
Margaret Watt, chairwoman of the Scotland Patient’s Association, said the kiosks’ introduction was “concerning”.
She said: “We are short of staff as it is at the moment, everything is about cutbacks ans saving as much money as possible. I think we are going far too fast for patients. Not everyone us able to use machines like these.”
Labour’s health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said NHS Lothian seemed to be going to “extraordinary lenths” to replace staff with machines.
She said: “People look for a human face in the NHS. This is a disappointing development and needs to be monitered very carefully.”
To register for an appointment, patients will be required to swipe their finger over the touchscreen and input their details into the machine.
If the three-month pilot proves successful then the devices, which cost £3000 each, could be rolled out over the rest of the city.
Martin Egan, director of e-health, said: “These kiosks will help NHS Lothian provide a more streamlined, efficient service for patients. It will help save them time and in some cases even provide more privacy because details will not have to be discussed at the desk.
“This is a pilot project about increasing patient choice and freeing up reception staff to support patients who need more time and attention.”
The kiosks will sit beside reception desks in two clinics in the outpatients department of the Western General Hospital and two ultrasound clinics in Radiology at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.