Friday, December 01, 2006

Voting For Doctors: Reality TV Hits The Medical Profession

The Search For A Medical Superstar

I've always wished that the medical profession had more drama in it. You sit and watch all those hunks and supermodels playing doctors on TV, with all their complex moral dilemmas and impossible yet dramatic cases, and you think working in a hospital will be just like Casualty or Grey's Anatomy. Sadly, the reality is that no, theme music doesn't play as soon as you stride onto the wards in your white coat.

Thank God, then, for the Department of Health. Realising that the medical profession is too boring and not exciting enough, they've decided to inject some fun into the whole doctor-patient relationship and allow patients to rate their doctors using a survey next year. According to the BBC article:
The government is to carry out a survey in January of five million patients and ask how good appointment and phone access to their doctor is. The answers will determine how much of the £8,000 their doctor gets, from up to £72m available to England surgeries.
Cool huh? You get to rate your doctor on how efficiently they perform. Heck, you could even march in and ask him to sing you a ditty, and threaten him with a bad survey report if he doesn't. Now THIS is entertainment!
Prime Minister Tony Blair told the BBC's Question Time programme that he was "astonished" to learn some GP surgeries were refusing to set appointments more than two days in advance because of a target that all patients should be seen within 48 hours.

He said then that he would ensure NHS targets did not stop people from seeing their GPs when they wanted to.

Absolute brilliance! Set targets and force doctors to meet them, then punish the doctors for trying!

HospitalPhoenix has posted his own take on the issue here. He points out that GP surgeries that don't meet their targets are probably doing so because they're oversubscribed and hence in trouble, whereas those that do keep their appointments are probably better off financially. So what do the government do?

Why, give more money to the obedient GPs who do meet their targets, and less money to the GPs who need it most, of course.

And did the government ask doctors what THEY thought about the survey? Oh yes, of course they did. But apparently not very fairly:

But Dr Hamish Meldrum, chairman of the British Medical Association's GPs committee, said the survey was discredited because the government had added "biased questions".

He said patients had been asked about arrangements for early morning, evening and weekend surgeries at times when GPs were not expected or paid to be open. "Using a survey containing leading questions, putting words in patients' mouths, and falsely raising expectations, is not the way to do it."
What's the government trying to do here? Throw money at the doctors who support them and squeeze the belts of those who don't? Or put a finger on the independence of the medical profession at a whole? Is there a greater agenda at work here?

I don't know. I don't care. The medical profession just got a whole lot more exciting! I'm going for singing lessons. Just in case.

"My grandmother can write better prescriptions than that, and she's blind!"


howling said...

Three contestants with least votes from public have just performed and is now up to Simon Cowell to judge and be eliminated from the finals:

Simon to Surgeon: "One word. Painful."

Simon to Physician: * Grabs chest and gasped "Can you pass me the GTN spray please???

Simon to The Angry Medic: You're a comedian. Aren't you that guy from the play? You're very entertaining. You're coming back tomorrow.

(insert wild applause here)


Jason said...

I have some doubts on whether Simon would know what GTN means, much less what it is used for. :)

On the other hand, if Angry Medic keeps coming back then he'd have the audience in stitches. (Horrible, horrible pun intended)

The Angry Medic said...

Aww...thanks for the vote of confidence, guys. If you heard me sing, you'd either have very different opinions about my singing abilities, or be brain-damaged as a result :)

I was also going to compliment your senses of humour, but then I read Jason's last pun, and, uhm. I remember what happened the LAST time I encouraged you, Howling. And I don't think I can take a pun war :P

Dan said...

oi angry medic! sing more! and as for anonimity, you posted your blog address on your bloody doorbell!!! i'm sure everyone in cambridge knows who you are by now.

Anonymous said...

Loved the Simon Cowell touch! Jason gave me a chuckle as well.

The Angry Medic said...

Dan: Hahaha yes. Thought I'd give a little distraction to all those people who buzz me loud enough to kill a rhino. *glare*

Chrysalis: Heh. Thanks! Just my lame attempt at humour. And between you and me, I thought Jason's one was quite good too, but of course I'm not going to say that because I don't want to start a pun war. *cringes as horrible memories come flooding back*

howling said...

Hahaha!!! I thought mine was really cute until Jason made it sound really horrible. Ooowww.

That is only if I really am Simon Cowell. Otherwise, you're tops in my book. When are you going to invite me in Cambridge? We could have a karaoke party. Peace!!!

*howling gives Dan the Cat a pillow and challenges Jason to a pillow fight*


Nathan said...

Well I'm sure the ridiculous financial free-for-all that is the American medical scene would be happy to have you, should you decide to come across the pond. I've got some USMLE study aids you're welcome to... ;)

Sid Schwab said...

I played Conrad Birdie in Bye Bye Birdie in college. Still have the gold lame' suit. Probably wouldn't fit, and might not be OR safe. But it might be worth a try, if it'd get votes.

The Angry Medic said...

Howling: Oh hey, why don't you come up to Cambridge and we ca--

*sees your pillow fight suggestions*

uhm. Right. Yes. You know, I'm going to be busy the next few, uh, years... :)

Nathan: Heh. What makes you think I'd do any better across the Atlantic? I'm close enough to death here as it is. Plus with the freezing temperatures, my dead body'll actually decompose slower! :)

Thanks for the vote of confidence about the USMLEs though. My British pronunciation will probably have enough American patients cursing to necessitate a resit :P

Sid: Sid Schwab, playing Conrad Birdie! Now I've heard everything.

Yep, keep that gold suit shiny enough, and I'm sure Mr Cowell'll let you stay in :) aren't you sad you're practising in America, where the medical profession is so boring and unexciting?

Jason said...

A pillow fight eh?

*discreetly inserts innocent-looking spiked metal balls into his pillow*

Right, who's up first?

Angry medic:
Angry Medic, sum ipse patrem te. You'll recognise that line from your favourite movie series, albeit in a different language. :)

The Angry Medic said...


*hiss-wheeze* Potestatem obscuri lateris nescis, Jason :)

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