An unhealthy mess
OF all Tony Blair’s muddle- headed schemes, arguably the most damaging has been the shambolic GPs’ contracts.
Dreamed up in 2004 to improve patient care, Labour’s botched initiative has, in fact, deprived millions of a service they deserve.
Doctors could scarcely believe their luck at being allowed to earn vast sums, with gold-plated pensions, while simultaneously opting out of evening and weekend work. Patients now struggle to secure appointments during unsociable hours, forced instead to head to A&E. Inevitably, this places ambulance services and hospitals under intolerable strain.
Welcome to the madhouse of out-of-hours care in modern Britain!
Now, it is revealed some parts of the UK have been left without a single family doctor on call. Less qualified nurses or paramedics must shoulder the burden.
Medics who do choose to work can charge a fortune – swallowing up money that could be spent on patients.
True, we don’t train enough GPs and we have a growing and ageing population – adding to the crisis engulfing the NHS. Predictably, unions point to lack of funding.
This, though, is about more than money. The family surgery is the bedrock of the NHS. Ministers must grasp the nettle and create a viable round-the- clock service that the public has every right to expect.