8 October 2014
I remember when the family doctor was an absolutely integral part of British society. Each and every community had a GP at the heart of it. When I was growing up, they were someone you’d ring and they’d come over to the house. So, what’s changed, and why is it that there seems to be so much opposition to the PM’s idea of providing funding for practices to open seven days a week?
Whilst you might argue that doctors are overstretched, I actually believe most GPs are running their businesses way too tight. And that’s what a GP is: a business. Most of the doctors I know are businesspeople. Yet there are still practices that would rather have a queue of patients than create a really great service. If there is funding available to get some extra GPs in and run things effectively, you’d think this would be a cause for celebration, not complaint.
When we were in France, our kids got ill on Bastille Day, yet the doctor was there in fifteen minutes and we paid around £70 for it. Go to the UK and – if you’re outside the opening hours or it’s the weekend – you end up having to take your son or daughter into a place where you’ve got drunks; people who have been fighting and are bruised and bleeding. You’ve got this amalgamation of problems in casualty and you have to take your child through that when they’re feeling at their worst.
And why, when the rest of the world does shift work to keep open, doctors do not? Can they not make better use of junior doctors; getting the less experienced ones to do the quieter shifts to integrate them? GPs have got to step things up a gear. What happened to the old bedside manner? The whole community experience starts with the family doctor. If there’s a chance to work with the government to make GPs great again, it’s a chance they should be grabbing with both hands!