I read an article in a local paper headlined "ANGER AT COST OF PATIENTS FAILING TO KEEP GP DATE", and while reading the article I began to get the right hump with this story.
The reporter, Stephen Hackwell went on to report that "Thousands of pounds are being wasted by patients who failed to keep doctors' appointments", and went on further to suggest that, "Surgeries across South Essex are forced to pay staff to do nothing because people cannot be bothered to cancel bookings."
Is it me, is it really just me? who finds this kind of story thoroughly obnoxious not just in the headline grabbing appeal it is aiming for, but in the actual message of the story, for goodness sake, give us all a break will you.....
"Surgeries waste thousands of pounds...", ".... forced to pay staff to do nothing...." Lets look at these two statements first. Why are surgeries wasting thousands of pounds in this matter. Are you telling me that surgeries are making appointments and the majority of those people making appointments are not turning up. Lets face it, it is so bloody difficult to get an appointment these days that the time, effort and cost, and there is a cost to this for the patient, have you tried phoning your surgery recently to get an appointment. Most of them either only have one line that is constantly engaged or when you do get through and the phone is answered you are normally greeted with the immediate phrase, with no time to respond to it, of, "Hello, would you mind hanging on for a few moments" before you are placed on hold while the receptionist either deals with another call or talks to the doctor or books and talks with a patient who is standing in front of them . And so, while the costs to you the patient may not be as expensive as the NHS tells us that their costs are, there is still a cost; in time, in calls and in frustration.
But where do they get, "the costs in thousands" from. It is probably me being over simplistic again or naive or both, so lets look at it from a simplistic point of view.
Doctors surgeries today operate a fairly open system in that they are there, or they are not, simple. When they are there, they have staffed surgeries, so they are paying for the surgery, the staff, the medicines and the usual paraphernalia that one has to pay for whether it is a house, shop or factory in terms of rates and utilities, etc.
Appointments, as far as I can tell are made by the patient phoning in and being lucky enough to be given an appointment. Again as far as I can tell appointments are given out for times that are suitable for the doctor/surgery and not the patient and again as far as I can tell appointments are normally made to coincide with the NORMAL OPENING TIMES of the surgery.
Gone are the days when you would turn up at your GP and find the waiting room literally and metaphorically choking to bursting point with both patients and germs, no today, there are none, or at the least, very few open surgeries, YOU HAVE TO MAKE AN APPOINTMENT. whether it is for the Doctor or the practice nurse. so that brings me on to the next question, how and why are, "staff being paid to do nothing?"
Again you need to ask yourself, when was the last time you visited the surgery! As you stood there at the reception desk being ignored or not. The receptionist IS ALWAYS BUSY, on the computer, on the phone, filling out forms, filing patients notes, retrieving patients notes, when have you ever seen a receptionist at a doctors surgery doing nothing.... never, their workload seems never ending, so how pray are they getting paid to do nothing.
Don't get me wrong here, I am not condoning patients making an appointment and then not keeping it, especially if they don't even bother to make contact and inform the surgery that they are unable to make the appointment. But, lets face it, there could be a relevant reason as to why they were unable to keep the appointment. Take me for example: I get the train to and from work each day, It doesn't happen very often but it does happen, there I am sitting on the train and out of no where the driver makes an announcement, telling me that instead of taking the branch line via Chafford Hundred and Ockendon, this train is now going to run directly into Fenchurch Street station via Rainham, etc. SO, all of us travelling to our chosen destination are dumped from the train and invariably left with no information on what's happening as the station staff we have been dumped at have no clue either.
So, imagine the situation, you have just been dumped off a train, you are given no information, the station staff you have been dumped on are as useful as an ashtray on a motorbike, and while you should be thinking of phoning your surgery, you are getting more and more angry and frustrated at the situation you find yourself in and forget to make the call, it happens, but this then causes the NHS to lose thousands of pounds and have staff sitting around doing nothing.......
I don't bloody well think so!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
One doctor in the article, who wishes to remain anonymous, comments that, "It can cause a real problem. It's not just the money - it's the time it wastes."
I accept that missing an appoint can appear to be time wasted, but, lets look at it in simple terms again. Lets just assume that five people have made an appointment to see the doctor and numbers 2 through 5 turn up ahead of or on time for their appointment. No 1 hasn't turned up and hasn't called and their appointment was for 5 PM. Well under those circumstances does No 2 not move into the slot immediately vacated and so on until all of the patients have been seen, leaving the last ten minutes of the missed appointment for finishing off the admin for the day and tidying up, locking up file cabinets etc. It's not as if they really HAVE NOTHING TO DO. And if patient No 1 turned up late, they are slotted in or kept to the end, it doesn't matter.
Apparently, the Department of Health does not collect statistics on missed appointments so is all of this a storm in a teacup or are local NHS trusts starting the next round of patient disenfranchisement, by publicly labeling some patients as time wasters as another prelude to more cuts in the already deplorable service offered to the ailing patient. And lets not forget, you can't compalin anymore because every surgery now displays that nice notice, Do Not Complain about the Service or Lack thereoff as We will just remove you from our books, or words to that effect.......
For the article referred to go to:http://www.echo-news.co.uk/news/9004434.Anger_at_cost_of_patients_failing_to_keep_GP_date/