Sunday, 2 September 2007

Dumb me down scotty!

The Scotsman has exposed more government plans to save money by dangerously expanding the roles of the ominously titled 'health care professional'. It seems that the powers that be are considering plans to send out nurses to do the job of GPs due to a worryingly lack of doctors. The logic behind this dumbing down is sadly lacking:

"They are qualified to a degree where they can make an assessment of the patient. And they can call on the advice of a doctor if they need it.

"If it was a complicated problem, the nurse would have the professional knowledge to make a judgment that the patient would require a doctor or hospital."

Unfortunately for patients nurses are not trained as doctors, they are unsurprisingly trained as nurses. This means that they are not trained sufficiently in basic science, clinical medicine, differential diagnosis, pharmacology, medical management and assessing medical problems to be able to safely carry out the job of a GP in visiting unwell patients at home and making tricky clinical decisions.

Nurses are simply not qualified to the degree where they can safely make these kind of tricky clinical decisions, they have no medical degree along with the appropriate experience and training in clinical medicine and decision making. Nursing training and nursing experience does not equip a nurse to become a doctor, a rather obvious fact that the government seems to ignore with ludicrous statements like this:

"It is not a cheap option. It's about delivering a better service for patients and using healthcare professionals in a much smarter and better way."

It is a cheap option. This option is a direct result of a shortage of properly trained staff, therefore replacing the properly trained with those who are inadequately trained is nothing other than a cheap dangerous fix. It is no surprise that a majority of Scotsman readers disagree with the government's plans and want to be seen by properly trained doctors.

The truth is that patients are paying the price for this government's completely inept management of the NHS and in particular primary care services. Dr Rant has neatly summarised the reality of this government incompetence, and the way in which cunning spin is used to try to pin the blame on the GPs when in fact the blame lies solely at the government's door.

The dumbing down as described by the Scotsman is not only occurring in primary care, it is unfortunately putting patients at risk in hospitals up and down the country as nurses are dangerously empowered to do jobs that should only be done by properly trained doctors. This cheap and shoddy dumbing down process is most likely already happening at a hospital near you thanks to a wonderful cost cutting scheme called 'Hospital at Night', I shall leave that for another day though.

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