Ding dong time this afternoon with the Practice Manager (PM) of our GP surgery. They’ve introduced a crackpot system where you can no longer book an appointment with a GP. You have to arrange for a GP to call you back that day to assess your need for an appointment. It’s all in the name of patient centred care and choice.
So I had a 30 minute call with PM who’d swallowed the health policy rhetoric manual but could not explain why I couldn’t make an appointment without a screening call. The gig was that I could agree to a GP call-back and potentially get an appointment the same day, or I could be allocated a loser slot, out of hours on a Tuesday night or Saturday morning.
In response to the (numerous) concerns I raised, she tried to persuade me that GPs were so flexible in this new system that call-back could be arranged to coincide with tea-breaks for people at work who didn’t want to discuss symptoms in front of colleagues, and that an online option existed so patients could type their concerns quietly. No reflection on how unrealistic or burdensome this was.
Yes, in some contexts of course it’s fab to have the option of managing some health related issues by phone. I howled for that when a GP rigidly insisted on ‘seeing’ LB in the surgery before re-referring him to neurology after he’d spent a night in A&E recovering from a massive seizure. But not a blanket screening system. That’s just crap.
Eventually, she suggested making an out of hours appointment in 2034. I told her I’d just crawl off into a corner and quietly die. She didn’t budge. It was screening call or crappo appointment. That was the system. I said I should probably contact the local paper about it. She booked me an ‘in hours’ appointment in a few days with my GP.
So, this new system is also going to feed into and reinforce health inequalities highlighted by, and remaining/increasing, since the Black Report. Fucking great.