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Once again Britain's GPs are being attacked
under a government orchestrated campaign of vilification. It isn't
as though the grossly incompetent Prime Minister has, himself, anything
to boast about other than, perhaps, the efficiency of his spin machine
in sticking knives into doctors.
Only this weekend the deviants in charge of the anti-doctor department succeeded in getting the Observer to write and publish a totally unresearched and biased item by their ex-sports reporter claiming that GPs are letting down patients by missing large numbers of cancer patients and that that is why the UK figures compare so badly with the rest of Europe. Not satisfied with the impact of this piece of infantile journalism the editor chose to make the misinformation his leading, front page headline.
But hang on a minute. Using the Observer's figures, cancer is diagnosed correctly in general practice on 99.77% occasions even without any sophisticated hospital diagnostic equipment and tests. So, as an example of crap journalism, gleaned from government press releases, there could not be a better example. Maybe, if he had troubled to stir from his PC for a few minutes the writer would have discovered that there are other factors involved in the UK's poor record.
For instance, the government quango, NICE, takes its time in authorizing the use of certain anti-cancer drugs which are being widely used throughout the world. It arrogantly puts lives at risk because it believes it knows best.
On the same theme there are countless post-code lotteries of drugs caused by restrictions imposed by poorly funded PCTs.
Then, of course, there are the inevitable delays at the hospital. It's alright the GP making an urgent referral but if that is some weeks away, that won't help survival rates any more than will the increasingly long delay between clinic and tests and tests and the start of treatment. The latter period could itself be a matter of months.
Of marginal effect, but still adding to the cumulative total are the NHS admindroid jobsworths who refuse to accept referrals if the paperwork is not right and who refuse to let one consultant refer on to another consultant without the patient going back to the GP first. That is something to do with one of the many dim Secretaries of State who insist that hospitals are paid by the number of external referrals not internal referrals - and hang the patient's welfare.
I would imagine that the above - and many other reasons for delay - go a long way to add up to the 0.23% of cancer cases which GPs are accused of failing to diagnose.
All this could have been gleaned by the Observer dolt at his PC had he bothered to cease being a government lackey and done his job properly as a responsible journalist - which he didn't.
Apparently, the Observer says, GPs miss symptoms and do not refer often or soon enough. Even slight, minor symptoms may be cancer, says thicko, so they should be referred. Clinical training and acumen should be ignored.
OK, so GPs should refer more patients on, even with the simplest of symptoms. Apart from it not being necessary, has the genius at the Observer PC thought what this would do to NHS budgets and patients' stress levels?
Well, if he hasn't, The Telegraph certainly has. Weighing into the doctor-bashing fun and games it has a page two headline demanding that out of hours doctors should reduce home visits "to save cash". The cash to be saved would belong to the government's pet private GP out-of-hours companies. It seems that GPs are talking to patients too much and referring too many on.
Excuse me, but isn't that just what the Observer has been criticising GPs for not doing?
That troubles Dr Mark Reynolds of On-call Care not one whit. It costs them money and they have to "balance our budget". With this in mind they are monitoring how long "their" doctors speak to patients on the telephone. Does Dr Reynolds think the doctors are passing the time of day with their patients? Does he not understand that it takes time to get an inkling about a diagnosis from many patients?
Day after miserable day GPs are being bombarded with the products of lazy journalism, vindictive politicians and radio and TV hacks who haven't a clue about what they speak and who are only too willing to repeat the latest government lie. Surely they should know this Labour government well enough by now to know that even if a Minister said it was sunny, it would be wise to check even though it was streaming through the window. And that goes for the Prime Minister, too.
The end-game, of course, is to get rid of those irritating independent contractors, the GPs in favour of Darzi and Branson Polyclinics - and the rest. Darzi, whose name will rank in its effect on general practice alongside Beechings effect on the railways.
Well, at this rate, they just may succeed. Then, God help the patients and the country's finances.
It won't trouble the GP. He will have left for sunnier climes where they don't lie about the ridiculous amounts GPs are supposed to be paid with not a word about 4 years without a pay-rise despite being responsible for paying staff their due increases.
But, hey, who cares?
Certainly not the government spin-meisters who are incapable of thinking ahead. Certainly not the media prats and their editors who don't give a damn just so long as they get a good headline.
But the patient will. He's already seeing the breakdown of primary care. But, anyway, who cares about patients - other than the GP?