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Patients will start dying because we’re too busy trying to keep people healthy

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Great news ladies and gents. Diabetes screening, or rather screening for the potential to become diabetic – yes, that’s like screening for evidence of existence – is getting every closer to being a contractual requirement.

That’s good, because it gives us something to do with that spare millisecond we have left between screening for alcohol problems, screening for dementia, screening for cardiovascular risk, screening for hypertension, screening for likelihood of unplanned admission, screening for cervical cancer, screening for depression and anxiety, and screening for people who’ve not been subjected to any form of screening within the last fortnight.

This is not a particularly original thought, but it’s one which bears repetition and, let’s face it, shouting, so here goes: WE ARE REACHING THE POINT WHERE OUR IMPOSED PUBLIC HEALTH ROLE MEANS WE DO NOT HAVE TIME TO SEE THE SICK. And that is why patients are having to wait for weeks to see and us, and why the Government is insisting that we work 36 hours a day, 12 days per week.

Please GPC, Pulse, National Screening Committee, national media, God, anyone, make the politicians see sense. Otherwise patients will start dying because we’re too busy trying to keep people healthy.

Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex. You can follow him on Twitter @DocCopperfield 

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Readers' comments (21)

  • how about people taking responsibility for their health rather than expect to be screened for the screening of the screening

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  • Vincenzo Pascale

    YOU KNOW... prevent is cheaper than care... So not having time to care people is a blessing!!! Amazed?

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  • I know what you mean. As a nurse I have previously been asked to stop checking for diabetes by my employer. Now the employer is being directed by GOV to screen more proactively.

    The frustration for me, as a diabetes practice lead, but also bottle washer within the surgery, are that GPs are now telling patients to repeat their HbA1c in 3 mths when they are only impaired, when we have insufficient time to keep up to date with those in poor control.
    The lab reports also state something along the lines of "repeat no sooner than 4 weeks" which most respond by ....yes....repeating in 4 weeks, when this test actually takes 8-12 to update. In spite of being a supporter of prevention, I am in a constant battle to try "advising" GPs to stop repeating so quickly, especially when it is so rewarding for patients, after their kick up the behind finding they "might" get diabetes, to find their reduction of weight over 3 months has actually made a positive difference. All we are doing by keep rechecking is ending up with lots of diagnosis that could have been reversed....but not in 4 weeks!

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  • Funny...I first read the header as "Staff will start dying trying to keep patients healthy"!

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  • When I was at school in the early 50s we had hard physical exercise 45 mins twice a day...x country runs ..always raining . Cigarettes were called 'coffin nails' which gave the brighter children a slight clue...there wasn't junk food, there wasn't choice...bring back rationing, that's the answer

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  • We have to charge per appt. That will have to be that. This free for all for everything is the real problem. If we GPs are prepared to do everything for £60 profit per patient year, the Govt will want us to do more and more.
    They are clearly not satisfied at 90% of all consults for 8%. They want more.
    The only thing that surprises me in this whole article is Copper asking GPC for help.
    Now he must be getting deluded and dazed by all the screening and screaming.
    GPC, what GPC. Oh, is anyone handing out gongs ? You will find them there.

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  • When I was at school very many years ago, we had annual health checks, healthy children become healthy adults!

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  • Shurleea, once again you are short on evidence and logic. We used to have rationing too, and restricted diets coupled with manual labour made society healthier than any other time in human history. Perhaps you'd like to see the reintroduction of the ration book and a compulsory month in the shipyards, too?

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  • how many patients would PAY to have all this screening? not many I suspect, which would go a long way to solving pressure on appointments. And those who refuse would show they have a better understanding about how much "prevention" actually works than politicians and the media

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  • “All screening does some harm.”
    Sir Muir Gray, ex-Director UK National Screening Committee

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From: Copperfield

Dr Tony Copperfield is a jobbing GP in Essex with more than a few chips on his shoulder