Data on more than 8,000 GP practices in England has been published in an effort to help patients choose the best GP surgery and to drive up standards. The Department of Health will use the information to measure patient experience for each surgery based on areas such as: How convenient it is to get an appointment. The length …
More fake choice ...
... just like with state schools, where the only availably strategy to exercise that choice involves moving house, this is about the illusion of choice. If the practice you'd like to join is full, or nearly full --- and there is a sensible prioritisation of places for those who live locally --- you'll have to go to the practice that is in your own town, whether you like it or not.
Anyone else reminded of the ratemydoc website from scrubs?
In my local area, if you want an appointment in a time frame shorter than two weeks, you have to phone up by 0830 and ask for one, then they will phone you back to tell you when the appointment is. But not if you are on a mobile. Also, you can't book face to face.
It's as if the speed you are seen is based less on medical need , but on one's ability to endure their booking system.
We 'ave it really tuff
08:30? All today's appointments are gone by 08:10 and (of course) you can't book one for any other date. The only way to see a doctor today is to start dialling at 07:58 (when you'll almost certainly hear a busy signal) and then keep hitting the redial button until you get through. How old dears in their 80s cope, I don't know. Still, it helps the surgery meet their performance targets (thanks Tony), so that's all right then.
At least they phone you back
At our GP you have to ring up at exactly 8:30 as they only switch the phone line on then. If you actually get through as the line is jammed with everybody trying to get through at the same time then you can only ask for an appointment for that day between 9:00 and 11:30, no booking an appointment for 3 days time or next week. More often than not by the time you get through all the appointments have gone and you get told to try again tomorrow.
The only time you actually get to book an appointment is if you have been to see the doctor and they tell you they want to see you again in a week or fortnight, at which point there is an argument with the receptionist who tries to get you to ring up on the day rather than just put you on the system.
Re: At least they phone you back
To add further insult, if I somehow manage to get connected in those 1st few seconds, I sit there for 20min or more in a fscking queueing system, racking up 0845 call charges! So far I've not managed to actually talk to a human on the system, it always drops my call some random time 10s of minutes into the wait.
Do have a nice pile of NHS feedback forms they insist on sending me but what's the point of filling them in if I've never met my doctor, 5 years now and never managed to catch him actually in the surgery? His locum spends longer in the bloody surgery.
And they don't phone back here...
A brilliant idea
So you find out your local GP surgery is staffed exclusively by assholes and when you try to go to one of the "nice" ones, you find out you're not in their catchment area.
Net benefit - Fuck all squared in a box.
The theory and the practice
What I really want to know if I need to see a doctor is how good are they. Are they likely to prescribe an orchidectomy when the real problem is my underpants are too tight (or if I arrive late). I.e. can they accurately and quickly diagnose and treat my ailments.
All the website seems to present is whether the front-desk staff are nazis (ans: usually, yes, it's a perk of the job) and whether the practice in general was well organised. Since most surgeries are host to many, many doctors the overall rating tells you little or nothing about the individual quack your "pot luck" will refer you to on any particular appointment (I've never seen the same GP twice).
I suppose if the system did rate individual GPs then in the long run, the reviews would be good, since all the lousy doctors would have killed off their patients before they could complain to the website.
Some odd systems out there !
Our local practice has a 2-week horizon which can be a pain if the doctor tells you they need to see you again in a month, but otherwise the main complaint is excessive waiting times. The latter seems to be down to the time slot allocation being fixed at 10 minutes, which obviously suits some doctors better than others - in a nice feedback loop patients that like to take their time tend to book with doctors that don't like to hurry their patients along, so once you learn which docs to avoid it works pretty well.
Oh, and bonus points to the GP I saw yesterday with a sick & worried relative; in addition to prescribing the right stuff he also rang them twice during the day to make sure the treatment was working and that they were feeling calmer as well as better.
Gotta love the NHS
With my surgery you can't actually get to see a doctor for several days. I figure this is something to do with them hoping that you will get better/die before they have to see you.
Makes it interesting every time, I have to speculatively book an appointment in case my ailment takes me into the number of days that I need a dr certificate for work, because if I don't then I won't get one because by that time I probably will be better and the dr won't sign the piece of paper retrospectively.
And thats before I actually want them to do something about my illness...
The trick btw is to wait to call the doctors once they are shut, see an out of hours surgery same day, get medicine, get a cetificate....
Everything has to be turned into a talent or popularity contest.
NHS Drop in centres
These aren't limited to catchment areas, and are usually 8-8, and usually give next day appointments.
I've found most (esp. my local one) to give better service, and since I work away a lot, that's very handy.
They are on that list linked to by the article.
Some good info
I found the number of patients seen with a particular condition useful. Presumably those who treat more patients with a particular condition means at least they are used to the system involving that condition and know where to refer to.
The obvious downfall is that this may be a demographic quirk.
Interestingly I asked at a local surgery if there was any of their GPs who was more more interested in the condition I was looking for. The staff said they wouldn't know that info.
Sometimes I wonder if we actually collect useful information!
GPs along with other medical professions have shafted the public ever since they threatened to not support the NHS when it was set up, and therefore had to have "their mouths stuffed with gold" (Nye Bevan) to enable it to even start. At every change in their conditions of contract with the NHS they have argued for salary increases. So, they got additional money for being available for call-outs and night-visits, then, when they withdrew from this, they got another additional increase to compensate them (rather than have the previous increase withdrawn.) Their system of expenses claims and bonuses (merit awards) are corrupt and excessive, yet have been ingrained in their working practices and the publics' consciousness (if they are aware of them) for so long they are seen as a necessary part of their job and justified because they are said to be "dedicated to healing people", rather than having components to their motivations that are far more venal. I presume that now, if you want the option to see them more easily, then they will require another bonus in order to do that! This kind of banker-like greed for always increasing pay whatever happens is endemic amongst the medical professions (and dont get me started even on the dentistry profession), and any criticism of it usually attracts derogatory personal attacks that smack of medical diagnoses, which are unprofessional, but which stick, and no one seems to challenge them for the borderline illegal nature of them.
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