We must acknowledge throwing money into a bottomless NHS isn’t working, says Dan Wootton

I would argue GP services should not be free at the point of use for folk like me, because there has to be a way to get out of this crisis

Published Last updated

I know my experience isn’t unique.

In fact, it’s disturbingly become the norm.

I called up my NHS GP to book a non-urgent appointment on something I needed checking out that was probably fine, but might have been serious if it wasn’t.

My word. You would have thought the surgery had just been sent a challenge on how not to see me.

It turns out the soonest I could get a telephone consultation was in nine days time in a three-hour block I had to keep free.

When they finally called me and I explained the issue, there was still no offer of a face-to-face appointment.

Quite the opposite actually – it felt they were doing everything possible to keep me away.

So I consulted the internet and decided my situation was urgent enough to book a private GP appointment the same day.

I appreciate I’m privileged enough to do so and believe folk like me should be actively encouraged to do what we can to protect the NHS for those who have no other alternative.

Britain is in the midst of a GP crisis.

One in three surgeries has closed to non-urgent bookings in the past year because they are so busy, according to GP magazine Pulse.

Meanwhile, 292 surgeries out of 824 — 35 percent — had to ration appointments recently.

That pushes patients to walk-in centres, pharmacies and A&E.

A Daily Mail investigation today found GPs are being forced to care for 2,200 patients each because of NHS staff shortages.

When you dig into the statistics it’s not hard to see why.

An extra 3.1million patients have been registered since June 2017 yet the number of fully qualified family doctors has fallen by 1,343 over the same period.

The government’s pledge to hire an extra 6,000 family doctors by 2024 is looking increasingly shaky.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said…

“We are working with the NHS to improve access to GPs, tackle the Covid backlog, and grow the general practice workforce to ensure everyone receives the care they need – including making £520million available to improve access and expand general practice capacity during the pandemic. We’ve invested £1.5billion until 2025 to create an extra 50million appointments a year.”

I think it’s about time we stop pretending the NHS is providing us a world class health service.

I understand its heresy to suggest such a thing, but it’s true.

And we must, as a country, have difficult conversations and acknowledge that throwing money into a bottomless NHS black hole simply isn’t working.

I would argue that GP services should not be free at the point of use for folk like, me because there has to be a way to get out of this crisis and allow the most vulnerable in society – the elderly, the poor, children – to see a doctor face-to-face whenever they need to.