Saturday, 2 March 2013

Getting to see your Doctor at any cost

It’s that time again; an Ipsos MORI poll undertaken on 11th Febuary, revealed that 89% of the 1,018 adults surveyed trust doctors to tell the truth, 9% said they didn’t trust them to tell the truth and a further 2% said they didn’t know. Teachers came second with 86% of people trusting them to tell the truth followed by scientists with 83%. This compares with the ‘ordinary man/woman in the street’ who scored 64%. Only 23% of the people polled trust politicians to tell the truth.

Interestingly Dr Peter Holden said: ‘This doesn’t surprise me. It is very much what we have always known. Doctors sacrifice that trust at their peril. I would be worried if we weren’t at the top. Governments should listen to doctors more. The nature of the health service is that it is long term and politicians are short-term opportunists.’ Yes this is the same Dr Holden a general practitioner based in Matlock, Derbyshire who back in 2010 earned a salary of £106,000. Yes this is the same Dr Holden - who was part of the British Medical Association (BMA) team which negotiated the current GPs' remuneration package. He insists he is worth every penny.

However, GPs contracts are being overhauled and that has not pleased Dr Holden and his fellow GPs. Findings from a BMA poll also show that more than half of GPs (54%) believe their practice would have to reduce patient access if the contract changes go ahead, and 88% of GPs believe ‘they personally’ will be less able to offer good quality care to their patients as a result of the changes. The Department of Health plans to impose GP contract changes from 2013.

So what’s the fuss about? Well details released by the DH in late 2012 revealed that the current deal, which provides top-ups to core pay for around 60% of GP practices across the UK, will be phased out over 7 years. At the same time extra services to be commissioned from GP practices will cover: Improving the assessment of people with dementia; Improving care management for frail older people and other high risk patients at risk of unplanned hospital admissions; Using technology to help monitor the health of people with long-term conditions and improving online access to services.

The DH confirmed this means GPs will be delivering more to retain the money they were getting under the old contract. And while the BMA are concerned with the possible impact these changes will have on the overall salaries of GPs, Sir Bruce Keogh, (Medical Director NHS) is calling for senior doctor’s to support 7-day working. Keogh believes the shift to 7-day working for consultants is essential if standards are to be raised. There is hard evidence; he says that patients are more likely to die if they are admitted over a weekend. Paul Flyn, chairman of the British Medical Association's consultants committee, rejects the idea, asking who will pay for senior doctors to be on the wards seven days a week. Hmm, Paul, I think you will find it’s us, your humble tax payer and potential patient, that man and woman in the street talked about above . And there was me thinking the NHS was a 24/7 service.

So is it just me who wonders whether all of this is just a smoke screen, an excuse not to face the unpalatable truth of Mid Staffordshire. As I have said to this blogs readers many times in the past, if I need health care I tend to go to the local Walk – In - Clinic, where I will be guaranteed to be seen by a knowledgeable, skilled and caring nurse. No appointment necessary.

This week’s blog sent care of Nicos@Blackwater, the only free WiFi cafe in Castle Douglas. Many thanks