Tuesday, 1 July 2008

A Patient's View of Darzi et al

I am probably one of the few non-medical, non-journalist types to have read the much heralded report from Lord Darzi, but I am also reasonably sure that I will not be the only person to read it and end up thinking "What is it all about?" I admit that there were some areas that I skim read, whilst there were others that I read in detail, even going back to reread them to make sure that I hadn't misunderstood what was being said. The Jobbing Doctor, who is one of my blog favourites and has already made a number of posts on the report, doesn't seem to be too impressed. And I can't blame him. As a classic example of mean-nothing doublespeak, this report is brilliant.

This is supposed to be putting forward something that will benefit the population of England for the next 10 years, I was unable to find anything that told me what was actually going to happen other than the fact that drugs would get faster NICE approval, and this had already been announced, and that I would have the right to choose my GP, not only which practice I joined, but also which doctor in that practice I could ask to see. Now correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought I was already able to choose which practice I joined, within certain constraints to be sure, and up until a few years ago I could ask to join the list of a particular doctor within that practice.

I consider myself to be reasonably intelligent, I have studied in my own time for a degree while holding down a very responsible job, and I hope that I have a reasonable command of the English language, but I had problems understanding what this report was trying to say. Some years ago there was a push to make sure that important information was put forward in clear language, that anyone could understand. This report fails to meet that criteria. Why do I find this so worrying? Well the NHS is something that affects all our lives and we ought to be able to have a say in what we want. This report claims that the views of patients and NHS staff have been taken into consideration in making the proposals for the future, but we still have things put forward that are not necessarily what the patients (or even the NHS staff) want. Having moved back to London after living in another part of the country for 30 years, I decided that I would try to integrate back into the community and one of the ways in which I thought I could do this was to join the Patient Panel at my GP Surgery. We don't meet very often, but we do thrash out matters quite carefully, and we got agreement for the practice to offer some late evening and Saturday appointments before the government decided to impose this on GPs with threats of funding cuts. We also discussed and agreed to changes in the way that the practice operated its Duty Doctor rota with the result that the practice can now offer a significant number of additional appointments each week. This was achieved through thoughtful discussion, everyone's point of view being listened to, and compromise where it was necessary.

The NHS will never be perfect, will never meet everybody's dreams of what such a service should be, but there must be ways of providing an efficient service that meets the needs of the vast majority without introducing extra layers of service which will be costly and only be pandering to a small section of the population. Why put large sums of money into polyclinics (in London) and heath centres in other areas of the country to help a few people who don't want to take time off work to see a doctor, when that money could be put to use in the NHS that already exists and does a pretty good job as far as I am concerned. I've always understood that the way to get the best out of anything or anyone, is to ensure that the best use of the money available is made and that it should not be wasted on infrastructure and manpower that does not enhance the service provided. In other words, IF IT'S NOT BROKEN, DON'T FIX IT.

1 comment:

The Witch Doctor said...

Welcome to The Blogosphere!


The Oldest Sage Witch (The Witch Doctor's locum until Halloween!)