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Stick that in your polyclinic consultation

Peverley has left his PCT in no doubt that patients don't want Lord Darzi's reforms

Peverley has left his PCT in no doubt that patients don't want Lord Darzi's reforms

We've been busy little boys and girls, up here in Sunderland, these past few months. We have had good cause to be. We, along with the rest of you, have had Lord Darzi's proposals for the future of primary care imposed upon us against our will and without our input or consent.

A surgeon, admittedly a good one, but without any experience of primary care, has imposed his arbitrary whim on our profession. He has told us it should be thus. We do not agree.

I'm not going to bother going through Lord Darzi's proposals yet again - if you don't know them by now you probably deserve to suffer them - but further details are emerging on a daily basis.

Last week, we learned in Pulse that the Government wants the private providers that hope to run the new GP-led health centres to do so with three doctors and nine nurses.

This is a business model and, although it is the exact opposite of what we know from experience actually works, it may well make perfect economic sense.

But patients with chronic and pressing health problems are not interested in sound income-generating business propositions.

They want to be seen as a human in distress, rather than a unit of profit. We all know this intuitively. But we need proof, and that's what we've been busy gathering.

Here in Sunderland I am chair of the Darzi Information Group, a subcommittee of our LMC, and we have been disseminating information and garnering opinion from the people who will be most affected by these proposals: our patients.

Mantra of patient choice

It's all to do with patient choice, apparently. That's our Government's mantra. One might question how it is possible to run a public consultation simultaneously with a tendering operation for these new practices.

Common sense might dictate that one should go before the other. But common sense appears to be just the latest victim of political expediency.

More than a million signatures against the Darzi proposals were collected in just a couple of weeks nationwide and presented to Parliament.

That's 2% of the population of this country. In Sunderland we collected more than twice as many, as a percentage of the population.

We also ran a questionnaire and, almost without exception, patients were in favour of the traditional model of general practice. Nobody wants Darzi.

One hundred and seventy patients responded with written opinions on the Darzi proposals - 164 opposed the plans, four could not be interpreted either way, and one gentleman (a PhD in public health) dismantled our questionnaire as unscientific (not without a certain amount of justification).

The final gentleman, a severely injured ex-serviceman, presented an impassioned plea in favour of the status quo. I was moved by his eloquence. He detailed the extent of his physical and mental problems.

He praised the practice he belonged to and the (literally) life-saving relationship he had with his GP: 'The one constant in my life is the knowledge my GP surgery is there to pull together the services I need and give me the help that enables me to cope.

I am able to see Dr X, the GP of my choice; he knows me, he knows my partner, and without any doubt whatsoever he kept me alive at a time in my life that became such a chore that death was certainly preferable. My problems are so complex and so time-consuming, no polyclinic will want me or others like me, which is not fair, not justifiable.'

Our PCT has finished its consultation exercise. It has our evidence, all of it. It must publish the results. I can hardly wait to see what they are. If they don't reflect the hard evidence that we have garnered, then the PCT is on very thin ice indeed.

Dr Phil Peverley is a GP in Sunderland

Phil Peverley

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