The Media is full of shock! horror! stories about GPs now giving consultations on the phone, as though that were a bad thing.
Yes, I admit that there are times when you need to see a GP face-to-face, but for someone like myself who finds it difficult to get to a surgery, the recent changes have been really helpful.
Once upon a time you saw a consultant; if they said you needed to see someone else, they lifted up the phone, spoke to a colleague and said “they will see you on ….”. All sorted in less than 5 minutes.
Today, the consultant tells you you need to see someone. If you are a private patient, or live in most European countries, the same rules still apply. It’s only if you are an NHS patient that Administrators now have to poke their noses in.
Today, you go back home, and phone your GP, to make an appointment to see them. This is to ask them to arrange for you to see a Consultant. If you are disabled like me you search around for someone who still has a car (most of my generation have given up on driving), and is free to drive you to the surgery at a time convenient for your GP. When you get there you pray you don’t have too long a wait, thinking of your kind chauffeur friend, then when you get to see the GP you have to spend time telling them what the consultant said, before you get an OK for a further appointment. Oh – then don’t forget your GP has to do the referral (more time-wasting). Eventually, you get a letter saying you are now on the list and wait to be given an appointment.
Can anyone tell me what is the sense in this? When our friends in Europe are able to speak directly to the consultant’s secretary to make an appointment, why does the NHS insist on their convoluted, time-wasting system?
At least having this telephone triage system cuts down on trips to the surgery.
So if GPs continue to work from home on the telephone, could I ask a couple of favours?
- Bring back the old ‘home visits’ so that once you have spoken to the doctor, if they need to see you face-to-face they visit you at home – as in the old days.
- Turn their now empty surgery offices into local health hubs, with Mother and Baby Clinics, Diabetes care, Quit Smoking hubs, Weight loss clinics, etc.