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Independents' Day

Taking on advanced access is folly if our patients don't wise up

Advanced access is a term that instills fear in those of us who like to have some control over our workload. The current wave of enthusiasm may be driven forward by the new contract if it is accepted.

Even without it the Government's agenda is to stoke up patient demand by raising expectations that cannot be met. I believe the principle that supply can meet demand within the current NHS structure

is fundamentally flawed unless two things happen.

First, and most important, patients need to be educated about what the NHS can realistically deliver. There are so many things that we either cannot or should not treat.

Second, the promised increase in frontline primary care staff needs to be delivered. The first of these two is given a low priority for short-term political reasons, the second may not be deliverable if figures for recruitment are examined.

I am fairly certain the practice of advanced access will fail, much as building more roads to ease congestion has been shown to provide only a temporary solution.

We will all need a hard shoulder to cry on if we take on the folly of advanced access without changes in the way people view the service the NHS provides.

Dr Stephen Banham



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