"Well, there is only one piece of advice I can give you," said the wisest of wise men. "The secret of happiness is to see all the marvels of the world and never to forget the drops of oil on the spoon."



('The Alchemist' Paulo Coelho)




Saturday, September 10, 2016

No doctor in the house?

I have moved about a fair bit during my life and so I've been registered at several different surgeries. The first GP that I remember was Dr Mogg, fat, jolly and as an added bonus, he could do conjuring tricks, which was a welcome distraction when you were in his surgery to have a dreaded injection! Elder Daughter commented recently that she was amazed at the low standard of GPs I had been treated by over the years. This was when I was enthusing over our latest 'find', whom we registered with a couple of years ago when Dad moved up here.
The surgery was open all day, had four GPs, all equally good, and the care we have received there has certainly been better than anywhere else I have been. Where else would your GP ring you at home at 7.50am to tell you the result of a recent blood test or happily do a home visit of his own volition just to check up that Keith's recent excruciating back pain had begun to respond to the pain medication he had prescribed? 
It is inevitable, however, that all good things will eventually come to an end. Unfortunately, although Keith and I are still registered at this wonderful practice,  the doctors aren't.
Like several other practices in North Wales, the doctors, all partners, decided in March that they did not want to carry on and would hand the practice over to the health board at the end of September.  Work load, surfeit of paperwork, ever-decreasing support from the local health board? Who knows? Betsi Cadwalladr University Health Board (BCUHB) - yes, there really is a health board with that name - has been in special measures for the past couple of years and, like turning a super tanker around on the open seas, it takes time to improve a large organisation. 
Still, all was not entirely lost. I learned from a fellow patient that Dr B, our GP had assured him that he 'wouldn't go until he knew things were settled'.
The next letter we received was to tell us that there would be a meeting for anyone who wanted an update on developments. This was conducted by a rather unsatisfactory 'someone' from the health board (who is not local and lives in Warrington, but let's not hold that against him), who could not or would not raise his voice to an acceptable auditory level, in spite of numerous complaints that people couldn't hear him.
According to him, there will be lots of 'other' staff - nurse practitioner etc - and the receptionist will point us in the right direction when we wish to make an appointment (Think steering as many people as possible away from the doctor and towards other staff, whether that's what you want or not). And on the subject of replacement doctors, well he 'couldn't say' exactly but it looked as if there would be one GP who would also have experience in manning the outfit and there may be another one too. One of the original GPs may come back part time and doctors from other surgeries may be able to fill in the gaps. Oh, and there would probably be some locum doctors - just to begin with, you understand.
A lot of 'may be', which translates into a lot of uncertainty, which then seemed a lot more uncertain when we learned from someone working at the practice that the 'other GPs' have now backed out and Dr B has in fact already left, to be followed very soon by two of the others.
Given that we are all potentially only minutes away from needing medical assistance, it doesn't fill me with confidence to learn that I am now apparently without a GP.
Let's hope we don't get ill any time soon, and if anyone knows of any GPs looking for jobs, please direct them to North Wales!

12 comments:

  1. Unbelievable. The world looks with envy at your NHS. It seems your health service (and ours here, as well) is not at all what it used to be. Conditions are becoming more and more favourable to the institution of "private" medicine. That is, one system for the wealthy and another for the poor. It's shameful that our governments don't take action to stop this disturbing trend. It sounds, however, as though a GP can't be had there at any price. Perhaps the good paying jobs are all in Cardiff. Or Liverpool.

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  3. Got it in one, Dale, but the shortages are all over Wales and lots of areas in England too. A cynic would say that there is a concerted effort to undermine the NHS in order to privatise by stealth!

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  4. There's not much I consider beyond the realm of possibility these days. I think the movement is global, actually.

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  5. Me too, Dale, on both counts.

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  6. I'm afraid that the problem of GP shortages is nationwide. Here in the Outer Hebrides we have some of the best NHS treatment available but trying to recruit GPs (or dentists) is nigh on impossible.

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  7. Yes, Graham. It worries me. The older we get, the more likely we are to need our GP.

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  8. What a sorry tale - all filtering down from the Tories' half-hearted support for the NHS. I am sure that your story is by no means unique Jenny.

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    1. No, sadly, I'm sure it's not, YP. I'm just relieved it didn't happen while Dad was still with us.

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  9. Forgive me Jenny, I hadn't realised your blog was back in business. My only excuse is that I've been busy working over the last six months or so.

    The half-promises from the suit from Warrington sounds familiar. In fact, I've an awful feeling that I might know who it was.

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  10. No problem, Ian. It's nice to 'see' you again. I have neglected the blog for quite a while but I'm getting back into it a bit now. I know that these problems with GPs and surgeries are rife throughout the UK but, quite honestly, I find it very worrying.

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  11. Everything internal sank as I read this. We went through the same cut-back (efficiency measures) process about three years ago when all our full time GP's decided to call it a day, with no arrangements in place for replacements. Yup, the health board came in, locums of varying abilities arrived and went, a range of polite blocking measure were used when a referral to specialist expertise was required, not clever when you are a 120 miles from some of it, and about 200-300 from the remainder.

    In addition, there are community hospital 're-designs'(two, 20 miles apart that perform very different functions anyway) not that the little hospitals have ever had much to cut.

    I moved to the other practice available in the town this year. They have had GP's move on or retire, but somehow manage to get replacements eventually. We are currently in the 'gap' situation again. The poor Practitioner nurse, who was newly appointed last winter has been mis-used in my view, to cover for the gaps and poor patients were mis-diagnosed and/or inappropriately treated, some enlisting help from others to obtain the severely rationed GP appointments.

    A similar picture has developed with community doctors in the other town twenty miles away, where, the small county hospital with some basic medical services and the only A+E is situated.

    I could enlarge on the sliced up regional outlook, but that might turn into a tome!

    What a picture!

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