Saturday, 11 August 2007

Bile Broadcasting Corporation

More weight has been added to the rumour that the BBC is being used as a mouthpiece for the government press office by yet another misleading article regarding GPs and OOH care.

The headline "GP out-of-hours complaints soar" is not an overt lie but it is deeply misleading to the public. Thanks to the government/DoH's gross incompetence in handling health service reform the responsibility of out of hours care is now held by PCTs, yet somehow the blame for the government's errors is always handed to the GPs who try hard on the ground.

"It is a fact that patients are annoyed when they cannot see their normal doctor and I think this is more likely to make them complain about the care they receive."

This statement is pretty much right on the mark. Thanks to the government and the PCTs mismanagement of OOH care they have scrapped a good system where patients got an excellent service for great value, and replaced it with a poorer service that costs more with no continuity of care. The government sees this as progress.

More complaints and more mistakes are inevitable if patients are seen by doctors who firstly do not know them, and secondly do not have access to their proper medical records. More problems are also inevitable as OOH cover is made more skeletal with fewer doctors covering fewer patients, and thanks to non-doctors being handed more responsibility in taking clinical decisions for which they are not adequately trained or accountable.

The rise of phone advice by so called 'health care professionals' will have its undoubted cost in terms of patient mortality and morbidity. Even the most skilled and trained medically qualified struggle to assess clinical problems over the phone for unfamiliar patients, especially when the patient has not been assessed by a competent clinician. Hence the government's drive to shift more work that should be done in person to being conducted by phone is not in the best interests of patients.

Parallels can certainly be drawn to the government's mismanagement of front line hospital care. Doctors are thinner on the ground out of normal working hours, meaning that more work is being done by the non-medically qualified in a rather unsafe and dangerous manner. Clinical decisions are being handed down to many new forms of 'health care professional' despite the fact that they have not been adequately trained for the job, they are also not accountable in the same way as doctors are for their decisions. 'Hospital at Night' is a case in point, a cost cutting scheme that pretends it will make things better, when in reality it has been a metaphorical gun to many a patient head.

The BBC seems to think that all these problems are the fault of GPs and doctors; this is strange given that these people are the ones actually trying to fight what sometimes appears to be a losing battle against the Department of Health's drive to privatise and cheapen the service. It is also even more strange as GPs and doctors have not been the ones making these negligent errors in reducing the quality of the service, ironically they are frequently the ones fighting against this cost cutting dumbing down in the interests of their patients.

I suggest that you think long and hard about these issues before you blame the convenient medical scapegoat that the government has created in a quite blatant attempt to shift blame away for its own gross incompetence. The government and Department of Health like to pretend that things are always getting better and that they listen to concerns raised, however nothing could be further from the truth. In actual fact the government routinely ignores concerns from the medical profession about their malignant health reform program; they do not care if they kill patients with their cost cutting short termism, it is all about how they are perceived, hence more money is invested in spin and propaganda at the expense of patient care.

I am amazed that the BBC chooses to trust the government so much when they have been caught lying with their pants around their ankles on such a regular basis. The government's rhetoric never changes, the chorus of 'patients safety' and 'better care for all' is repeated ad infinitum; I suggest that you judge them by their actions and not their hollow words, their gross practical incompetence should speak for itself.

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