So the government now wants General Practitioners to provide care out of hours, on Skype and email if you please!
You can tell there is an election in the offing,so the holy cow the NHS has to be tweaked.
And the practices will be paid £800 extra per week for doing something which was a part of their job description anyway.
Let me take you back to before 2004,the good old days when a family doctor was just that. he knew his patch and his patients knew and trusted him. We were with the same GP who looked after me when I was expecting my children , and then he was the one who did their medical pre university.
Fast forward to 2004 and Mr Blair in his wisdom,( before the 2005 election if you remember), produced a new contract for the GPs, cutting their working hours , and giving them a huge pay rise. They were to be paid for every little thing they did, like ante-natal care, diabetes care and blood pressure checks.
They were no longer expected to provide out of hours services, a lot of them opted out and started doing nights as a locum for huge sums of money,some would earn as much as £1000, per night. You can’t blame them,the government offered them the opportunity on a plate,so why shouldn’t they?
No thought was given as to how and who will cover the yawning gap of after hours. Illnesses do not happen between 9am and 5pm.
I was part of the Quality Assessment Forum (QUAF) in 2004, when this new contract was implemented.
We visited the practices to assess how they were coping with the change. A lot of doctors were concerned, they had a lot of elderly and ill patients, in their patch, some who lived in remote rural areas, and there was no mechanism in place for their care. Only the Deane doctors,just one doctor will see everyone in a part of the hospital,no thought was given as to how the elderly and frail will get there in the night.
There were horror stories, like the 14 year old girl, who stayed with her mothers body for some 10 hours,before a locum doctor was found in Liverpool,and he came and certified the death,so the undertakers could do their job.
Horror stories of the European doctors,who after working all day,will jet over to do the night shift for loads a money. They didn’t know the area,some spoke very poor English,and a lot were un familiar with the prescribing and the dosage. Cases were reported of mistakes in calculation of dosage.
Of course the politicians were oblivious of it ,once they have made the “changes” and then won the election, they were not interested.
We have had the walk in centres ,for which practices were paid big money, now this new initiative, of contact with Skype,text and email!
Having been on the receiving end as a carer for my Late husband, I can certainly say the devastating effect of these changes, when you are alone, frightened and desperate to relieve the suffering of your loved one, you can not get a doctor to come. My husband was too ill to be taken to hospital ,as a result in his last months he had numerous hospital admissions and discharges. Distressing and painful for us and expensive for the NHS.
Simply for the sake of change, a wonderful system was destroyed. The GP /patient relationship was destroyed, and untold suffering caused to the public. As a result the sacred relationship and trust which was the backbone of the family doctor system,was never to be restored again.
But alas the politicians will not learn,come election and there will be another change in the offing.