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At the heart of general practice since 1960

HRT results 'misleading'

PCT bureaucracy has become so onerous on GPs that it must be stopped, argues Dr Ravi Vibhuti

Justin King, chief executive of Sainsbury's, the troubled supermarket giant, has a simple diagnosis for his company's ills and a straightforward treatment plan. He believes there are too many people at headquarters creating complexity in what should be a simple delivery system. His answer: axe jobs at HQ and deploy more staff in shops.

As with retailing, so with general practice. If GPs are left alone we can use our common sense and deliver the service sensibly and effectively, which is what most of us have been doing for the last 20 years.

Instead, the Government engages hundreds of bureaucrats who arrive on our doorsteps every other week wanting to go through our records to verify the points earned in order to authorise the carrots. This is just plain misguided heavy-handedness.

Then we are made to attend various PCT policy roadshow meetings or risk being branded 'under-performers'. What's more, we are then asked to fill in endless pages of forms by set deadlines. Each day we are driven to madness by charters, advisers and meeting-makers.

But whenever we try to speak to officials within the PCT they are all busy or in meetings or working from home and not contactable so we only ever end up leaving messages. These bureaucrats then call back and insist we be interrupted during consultations as they are 'from the PCT'.

All these meetings must incur huge sums of NHS money and the real losers must be the patients who do not get to see their chosen doctors or nurses as they are all busy at PCT meetings studying graphs and charts and looking at strategic plans and protocols for the next quarterly delivery of patient care.

At the end of these meetings, we are sent home with another thick folder full of surveys and questionnaires to fill in to assess how worthwhile the meeting was! If we do not respond in time, we are bombarded with e-mails, reminder letters, phone calls and even personal visits and threats of sanctions.

I am sure these bureaucrats are only doing their jobs, but reading and reviewing this paperwork and attending these meetings is an additional burden on GPs. The Government may be putting extra money into the NHS, but it is being spent on maintaining this bureaucracy.

Perhaps, it is time to look at dismantling the PCT structure and apply Justin King's formula: deploy more doctors and nurses.

Dr Ravi Vibhuti is a GP in Chatham, Kent

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