"Pulse's senior reporter Steve Nowottny was impressed by the local walk-in centre. Luxurious, accessible, friendly. All the things you want the NHS to be. There was only one thing wrong. No-one could help him with his problem.At Pulse I spend a lot of time writing about primary care. But as a young, fit and – touch wood – generally healthy journalist, it’s not every day I get to see it at the sharp end.
For the past three weeks though, I’ve been suffering from a low-level cough, and yesterday I finally caved in and decided to seek help.
The thing was, I didn’t want to go to my GP. After two years of covering extended hours, polyclinics and the rise of the commuter patient, I probably should have known better.
But I didn’t want to have to make an appointment, I didn’t want to wait and I didn’t want to have to stay at home.
So I went to the walk-in centre.
It turns out there’s an NHS walk-in centre just a ten minute bus ride from Pulse Towers in central London.
It’s a little hard to find, tucked away in a shopping arcade behind a railway station. But the sign in the window promised they could deal with coughs, and once inside it was a thing of a beauty.
Luxurious padded brown leather seats. Friendly receptionists. And best of all, just two patients ahead of me in the queue.
I sat and waited my turn. It took about ten minutes, and a nurse came to get me. She was very professional. She took my blood pressure. She took a detailed history. She listened to my chest.
But she was also very candid. I didn’t appear to have anything serious, but she couldn’t be sure, and wasn’t qualified to say.
My cough shouldn’t have lasted as long as it had (this I knew already). There was a small, a very small, chance it could be something serious.
TB was even mentioned. I could try some over-the-counter treatments, she said, and reeled off a couple of names.
But my best bet, she told me - and this was before we even started - was to go and see my GP.
I rather enjoyed my trip to the walk-in centre.
I was able to turn up and be seen straight away. It was easily accessible and centrally located. It was beautifully decorated. I left feeling decidedly warm and fuzzy about walk-in centres, Lord Darzi, and the health service in general.
There's was just one niggling thing. The only thing it couldn’t do was help me with my cough. Or tell me for sure it was not something to worry about.
Tomorrow, I'm calling my GP."
This amusing little tale sums up just how unproductive this government's fiddling with the public sector has been. A lot of money has been wasted creating shiny and entirely useless gimmicks. At first glance, things look great, however the government has merely created a stage upon which it acts out this pathetic game. There is no end product for all the gloss. We have numerous empowered ignorami, but alas they can do nothing of use. The NP, the PCO et al, what a great waste of our money.