l seem to write a blog about GP’s every year. ( You can see all my earlier posts by clicking on “GP’s” in the TagCloud )
They are the first call in managing the nation’s health and a vital gatekeeper to all other NHS health care. At one time, not so long ago, they held a trusted vocational role in the community. Then the politicians interfered and egged on by the GP’s trade union, the BMA, they made a Faustian bargain to pay GP’s more for doing less. Ever since the service has declined and that has been the subject of my posts.
We have now passed a tipping point. Many people unable to get an appointment with their GP are bypassing the system and go instead to A&E departments, which are being overwhelmed. At the same time the exit from hospital is blocked by the increasing numbers of elderly people who cannot return home, because of cut backs in home care.
The latest suggestion from a group of GP’s in Oxfordshire is to charge for ‘out of hours’ appointments, which is apparently in the evenings and at weekends. They propose a figure of around £25. When the idea was first mooted in 2013 the figure was £10.
There will inevitably be a hostile reaction to this from the “NHS free at the point of delivery” brigade. Not to mention the ” thin end of the wedge to privatising the NHS” flash mob. But what’s the use of a free service if you can’t get an appointment in the first place and aren’t many treatments in the NHS privatised by default because of long waiting lists.
The current system is a mess, unable to cope with the competing pressures of financial constraints and an ever increasing elderly population. We have to be prepared for radical solutions, but they surely need to be much more comprehensive than just GP paid appointments.
Perhaps after all the answer will have to be : –
A SILVER BULLET ?