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.
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".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?
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."
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.