Years ago, or maybe it is just in my rose-tinted imagination, I seem to think that if you wanted to see your Doctor, your own personal Doctor, you just turned up at the surgery and after a little wait, ……. there he was !!!! What is more, if you were too ill to visit the surgery, he would come out and see you in your own home !!!! NAH I must be dreaming.
Then things got a bit busier and GP’s all huddled up in group practices. So you did not always see your own Doctor. Also to keep the patients in order, they appointed security guards, called receptionists, who were especially recruited for their customer-not-friendly skills. Their main job seemed to be to hold back the tide of ill patients wanting to see the Doctor.
It wasn’t long before the hard pressed receptionists and their over-worked GP’s came up with another wheeze to keep the irritatingly ill patients at bay. The Appointments System, other wise known as “now see if you can get through the door”. With this new approach most people got better before they managed to see the Doctor. Sadly a few didn’t make it at all.
The next big advance in patient care was the appointment of Locum Doctors to cover out-of-hours calls. They were selected because of their complete lack of knowledge of the patients. This enables them to take an entirely independent view of whether you are wasting the Doctors time. If not they will frequently send you off to A&E, which must partly explain the significant rise in people turning up at hospitals unannounced.
Then the Government stepped in with a big “we must cut the waiting time boot”, and banned appointment lists. Now all you had to do was ring up first thing in the morning and ask to see the Doctor. Along with the other 550 ill people who wanted to see the Doctor on the same day and were also ringing in. After hanging on the phone for an hour or so, you eventually got through to the security guard, who told you that all the appointments were taken and you should ring back first thing tomorrow.
This system didn’t work very well, so they have come up with a new idea. It is called ……..
An appointment system !
But at least now the GP’s have the weekends off and are not disturbed in the night. Eventually patients will learn not to get ill at these inconvenient times .