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Don't pay patients to visit me. Pay them to stay away!

Those patients who take up a PCT's plan to pay them to visit their GP will only waste the cash on a lardburger, so why bother. How about paying them to stay away, says Copperfield.

Those patients who take up a PCT's plan to pay them to visit their GP will only waste the cash on a lardburger, so why bother. How about paying them to stay away, says Copperfield.



North East Essex is only an A12 car ride from my patch in South West Essex. But it might as well be on another planet. That's if a recent story about N.E. Essex PCT is true – and it must be, because it was reported in Pulse and the national media.

The idea is that patients at risk of long term illness will be offered cash payments, along with other incentives, to attend health checks. True, I haven't read the detail.

And yes, I've heard of the inverse care law. And, OK, I know that dealing with the worried well as opposed to the unworried nearly-ill is as rewarding as sticking a fork in my eye.

So maybe I should be praising a scheme which is radical, innovative and potentially health-equalising. But I can't. That's because it's crap - and a shedload of innate scepticism easily outweighs any sympathy I have for hand-wringing bleeding hearts.

We all know that the type of punter attracted to this kind of incentive scheme is exactly the same type of person who will spend his reward on a sodding great lardburger.

The chances that this individual will comply with the gut-busting, no smoking, arse-shifting, booze cutting lifestyle he'll inevitably ‘need' will be about the same as the prospects of him collecting those statins and antihypertensives he'll be prescribed.

Zero. Unless, of course, he gets a Mars Bar for every pill he pops.

I don't even want to think about where the money for this scheme is coming from because I know it will make me want to use very bad words indeed, loudly.

My only source of consolation lies in the laws of physics. Because, for every action, there's an equal and opposite reaction.

So for this warm-hearted, magnanimous gesture from the North-East, there's another, less benevolent gesture from the opposite end of the county.

I know, because I'm doing it, now. And there's a suggestion winging its way to my PCT about paying patients to stay away.

Copperfield blog

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