A doctor has criticised a recent statement by Jeremy Hunt about children's rashes, in which he suggested the development of an online advice portal could help parents distinguish how serious the condition is.
Addressing alternatives to the NHS 111 helpline, the Health Secretary said this additional resource could be a quicker way of understanding more about a rash.
"We may well need more 111 doctors and nurses," Hunt said according to the Daily Mail. "But if you’re worried about a rash your child has, an online alternative – where you look at photographs and say 'my child’s rash looks like this one' – may be a quicker way of getting to the bottom of whether this is serious or not."
A spokesperson from the Department of Health told HuffPost UK Parents that this statement has been misreported by some media outlets, who suggested Hunt was advising parents to Google their children's symptoms.
The spokesperson clarified Hunt was not suggesting people should self-diagnose on the internet, but he was talking about resources additional to the NHS 111 helpline which don't yet exist.
However Dr Hamed Khan, an emergency department doctor at St George's Trust, believes the idea of an online portal is not effective enough to handle these conditions.
"I am worried that parents will take the Health Secretary's advice and potentially miss very serious illnesses like meningitis – which could have fatal consequences."
The doctor said a distinction between certain types of rashes requires "clinical skill" and training at a very high level.
He added: "It is ludicrous to think that a person without clinical training can use the internet to search through some pictures and do this."
Since the comments, people have taken to social media to slam Hunt's advice, some using the hashtag #jeremysrashclinic.
Warning: some photos below are graphic.
(2) if you're worried about your child's rash take them to a real doctor! #jeremysrashclinic— Hamish Patel (@HamishJPatel) January 31, 2016