Having to wait to see a GP is absurd

10:50am Wednesday 2nd January 2013

FROM your recent letters and what my friends tell me long waiting times to see GPs are commonplace.

Luckily, my surgery is quite different. There are rarely problems being seen the same day or the day after if need be by one of the doctors if my own is not available.

The reception staff are patient, helpful, considerate and efficient.

The waiting room is light, airy and spacious and never crowded, as the appointment times with doctors or nurses are generally met. That is all how it should be.

It is absurd to wait weeks or even days with worrying or uncomfortable symptoms whilst knowing that prompt detection can be crucial for successful treatment.

This is not only unacceptably uncivilised but a major flaw in the Government’s ‘re-organisation’ of health services.

Changing surgeries is difficult and daunting, so poor ones survive because there is usually no practical alternative.

The Government is creating a market influence on hospital performance by giving GPs control of commissioning hospital services on the assumption that they best represent patients’ needs.

Yet how can doctors only offering appointments weeks ahead be said to represent patients’ needs or to have the management competency to be involved in the the organisation of hospital services?

There needs to be an effective ‘market’ in primary care so that patients can change easily to an efficient caring surgery with a manageable patient list.

Poor ones may then go out of business or be forced to reduce their patient list. That is how it should be.

The cost of a larger number of GPs, with the ‘wasted’ expense of training of ones that leave, would be more than offset by increased quality of primary care and the resulting earlier detection and recovery rates that would save hospital costs and reduce the length of sickness in the workforce.

If there were ever a case for putting GPs in control of hospitals, then there is equally one for enabling patients to easily change their GP to one that offers a good level of care and service.

SIMON HILL, Highfield Road, Southampton.

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