“Illness is rarely convenient”

Letter to the Editor

Dear Sir,

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/nhs/11686981/Patients-deserve-a-better-deal-from-their-GPs.html

“Illness is rarely convenient.”

How very true. Acute illness can strike at any time, so thank goodness we have the NHS, which incidentally was set up to provide 24/7 emergency care, not 24/7 routine care.

“When it does, people often find that they have to take a day off work to seek treatment, which reduces productivity.”

I ask you, if someone is acutely unwell, is it unreasonable to allow them a day off to attend a doctor? I’m not entirely sure ‘productivity’ is high on their agenda.

Your argument here is that when people are unwell, they should be able to access a doctor; they already can, it’s called the Out of Hours service (OOH) and has been in existence long before the 2004 contract changes. Incidentally, the 2004 contract took away the obligation for GPs to make arrangements for that OOH cover, the cover itself was already in existence and did not change. The OOH service is available for anyone who is ill or needs advice via the national 111 service. Patients can access telephone advice, face to face appointments and visits, 7 days a week, when GP surgeries are closed.

The Conservative clamouring for 7/7 opening is to enable a select group of the population to access their routine medical care at weekends and in the evenings. Whilst it may be a wonderful utopia, there is a woeful lack of funding or workforce to enable this pipe dream.

General Practice already sees 90% of NHS consultations with only 8.5% of the budget. From a funding perspective, Primary Care provision would need to be increased to at least 11% of the NHS budget in order for this 7/7 opening to occur and this doesn’t take workforce requirements into account. The risible extra non-recurrent funding thus far discussed by the government is a mere sticking plaster to that really required.

The normal output of GP training schemes is about 1K per year. If Hunt wishes to increase the workforce by 5K, he needs to double GP training output, every year, for the rest of this parliament. He starts with 30% vacancies and no funding for expansion, a tall order I think you will agree, especially with the hordes of GPs who are already planning to retire early or emigrate because they are sick to death of your type of misleading, inaccurate reporting.

Much like your comment,

“Historic spike in the use of A&E departments can be directly linked to the GP contracts drawn up by labour in 2004.”

I draw your attention to this article by John Appleby Health Economist:

http://www.kingsfund.org.uk/blog/2013/04/are-accident-and-emergency-attendances-increasing

In light of your article, I feel compelled to cite the new IPSO standards which state (clause 1a) that articles must be accurate and not misleading and thus ResilientGP demands a print correction and apology to our GP colleagues as per Clause 1b and for it to be given due prominence.

Yours faithfully

Dr Michelle Sinclair
Partner ResilientGP