Friday, 21 December 2007

GP Hours Row

Picture a group of professional people. They're not bad boys and girls, as a rule; they're fairly intelligent, reasonably caring and they work pretty hard - though, it must be said, not quite as hard as one might expect folks on their salary to work.

They're also, as one might expect, possessed of the ingrained professional arrogance that experts in any particular field usually reserve for the totally clueless, and phrases along the lines of "we know best" and "for your own good" are rather too commonly heard from their lips. Overall, things aren't going too badly for them - could be better, of course, couldn't it always, if only management could tell their ass from their elbow, but it could definitely be worse.

And then someone suggest that, while things are going well for them, their - let's call them clients - their clients are not totally chuffed to bits with the service they're getting. It seems they can never get hold of these professionals when they want them. Appointments have to be arranged to suit the professionals, rather than the clients. And, although their generous salary is funded from the public purse, making them public servants, they seem to have forgotten that, when they address their clients, they do so as a servant addressing their master and should adopt an appropriately subservient attitude.

How would you expect this group to react if they were told by "management" that they had to do a better job of being available when it was most convenient to their clients? Pretty much exactly as GPs are reacting to the idea that they're going to have to get off their butts and do a proper job of work by keeping their surgeries open until 8PM, I should think.

They are, according to the Daily Mail, "furious" at the prospect, as most people are when the boss has the nerve to demand that folks do the work they're paid for. How the hell do they think everyone else manages? Health care may not be a business, but it could certainly do with some traditional business values - like working to the job, instead of the clock, for example!

Of course, such traditional values aren't so common even in businesses these days, as more and more eweman-rites-aware, anti-discrimination-protected wastes of space take up jobs that they then can't be sacked from despite being utterly crap at them. But even so, other branches of the National Health Service manage to provide at least the illusion of a 24-hour service (although anyone who's visited their local hospital out of business hours might see through the charade fairly quickly), and I don't see why GPs should be any different.

Naturally, they do. And, as is always the case when their slightly-cushy little number is threatened, their knee-jerk response is "It will threaten patient care". Certainly, that's the official line from the BMA on this little spat, as it was when surgeries in supermarkets were mooted a few weeks ago. Can't they think of anything different to say? Or do they think we don't notice that they always trot out the same lines?

Anyway, it doesn't matter. The current system is going to have to change. I don't want to see a GP when they want to see me, I want to see them when I want to see them - within reason, of course. If they can't - or don't want - to manage that, they're probably in the wrong job, and should treat this as an opportunity to take up something they can handle. Of course, it will be difficult to find an equally well paid job that lets them tell the customer what service they're going to give them, and then make them wait hours, days or weeks to get it, but I'm sure that, given a long enough run-up, they'll come up with something - politics might be a good place to start.

Billy Seggars.


DJM said...

"I want to see them when I want to see them - within reason, of course"
So go on then, what would be reasonable opening hours. Remember currently its 8.30am -6.30pm 5 days a week and 86% of the population are very satisfied with those hours.

Anonymous said...

Seeing me is fine.

If you want anything done that involves any part of the health service - blood tests xrays and the like - then could you get the support services set up to work around that instead of their current hours, please?