Friday, February 11, 2005

From Terrorism to Change and Book

As a change from terrorism, a moan about the local health service organisation - the PCT.

There are in our locality hundreds of different forms of help available to my patients - everything from chiropody to self help groups for psychological conditions. Surgeons and physicians each have areas of special interest. They also have waiting times. A mass of data, all of which filters in to me on a daily basis, forming part of the one inch or so of paper that plops onto my desk each day, which I try to file, but which is unreachable at the point that I need it.

Over the past 15 years, I have been faithfully attending the monthly meetings of GPs and administrators to "feed back" our needs and wishes to "help them to help us". In these meetings, I have consistently and at every opportunity, sometimes as a set agenda item, put forward the suggestion that our local area should have a website where we can find all this information. Each time it is put forwards, the managers lean forward, and say "We hear you". They say "We will take this back". They "Will look into it". And each time, nothing happens. This is despite the fact that their offices are replete with Information Technology Managers who could create the website in a couple of weeks.

These doctors meetings cost about £50,000 per annum. God and the financial office knows how much the IT managers cost, and God alone knows how much the PCT loses in patients not referred to the agency who could help, or to the wrong specialist.

The icing on the cake is that we are now supposed to be offering our patients a service called Choose and Book, where we will be expected to select a hospital that meets our patients' individual preferences. In Choose and Book, we will be provided with a website that has specialists' waiting times. Other information, of the kind mentioned above, could be added to it. But because Choose and Book is being imposed centrally, without consultation, and emerging from a matrix of Patient Choice, there is a mood of rebellion about this stupidity, and certainly locally, and hopefully nationally, GPs will refuse to play ball. I share this mood of rebellion. Why do I not try to adopt, adapt and improve? Because over the years I have become sensitised against anything that emerges from the NHS bureaucracy, and because of Iraq I have become sensitised against anything that emerges from Government.

I am beyond anger now. It is a strange emotion, a kind of resigned quiet detachment. Due in no small part to the fact that I have resigned from full time practice, and have more time to think.

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