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I don’t like it, but Center Parcs is the future

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Center Parcs – the bastion of the modern family holiday – and a place I have resisted going to for almost seven years.

I hope I‘m wrong

We finally succumbed this weekend. The kids were excited because all their friends have been. I just wanted to know if it was worth the hefty amount I had to cough up.

Your basic package includes a perfectly reasonable location, adequate beds and bathrooms. No frills, but adequate. It’s a bit dodgy round the edges (remote control on the blink; only one bin liner). But, you do get endless, unrestricted access (to the swimming pool). 

Of course the pool gets pretty crowded, and after a few days it all starts to pall. The kids are starting to nag. ‘Can we go there instead, Mummy? I want to do that!’ So you gaze at the people staying in the luxury treehouses, riding their electric bikes and Segways, playing badminton and dining out for every meal. You think, ‘Wow! Maybe one day, when I’m really rich, I’ll be able to afford that’. 

Hence, you compromise. You pick and choose based on what you can afford. You can’t have everything. Certainly not when they’re charging London prices for drinks…

At it all smacks of the current state of the health service. Your swimming pool and accommodation is part of the deal.  That’s your basic GP care provided with no limits, but only what the system can manage, when it can manage.

Whereas if you want frills, then it costs. You could get some logs and marshmallows for the fire as a little extra. That’s a daytime appointment at a time that suits you. You could have dinner out once or twice. That’s an evening or weekend appointment. But, you’ve guessed it – that costs too.

You could do archery, or hire a bike. That’s a private X-ray or scan. You could go for a spa session. Usually just the once. That’s a private consultant appointment. Beyond the reach of most, and you smell of lavender oil for days.

We don’t expect Centre Parcs to be giving all this away as part of the deal, and it is becoming clear that the NHS can’t either.

No more money is coming in. In case you hadn’t realised, the Treasury and the Prime Minister are entirely unsympathetic. We’re being forced to pare back to the bone, and then some more, in order to keep the service afloat.

So what option do we have other than to go down the Center Parcs route and charge for those extras we can’t afford? It may not be fair but it’s a reality that goes beyond the ‘should we?’ debate. In an ideal world, there’d be free gold-standard care for all. But that’s not going to happen.

Of course, if we do take this route, it will be those ‘greedy’ doctors and nurses doing it, not the Government. But if the current crisis isn’t motivating ministers, then the complete collapse of the NHS won’t either.

Do we wait until even the basics start to fail, like no intensive care beds for children or a town with no GPs at all? Do we allow the vulnerable to suffer more delays without at least looking at the next-best option?

This isn’t the NHS I want, but I feel the decisions are made and now all we face is Hobson’s choice. I hope I‘m wrong.

Dr Zoe Norris is a GP in Hull. You can follow her on Twitter @dr_zo

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Readers' comments (2)

  • I've got theoretically 20+ years left of this. I could weep for me as a GP looking for any way out of this misery and for my kids as there will be nothing left for them. Who voted for these people, why is being allowed to continue and why is no-one holding them to account?

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  • I found this an interesting analogy but then I am a huge fan of center Parcs

    1 no member of their staff would seek to mislead their customers with regard to this, they provide written and verbal information which do not differ, partly as a result company policy, but also of course to comply with customer legislation
    The NHS does neither of these
    2 no medical student will receive any information or training explaining this
    3 no vocational training scheme will address this issue
    4 the royal college of general practitioners does not recognise the issue and takes no steps with regards to it
    5 all senior members of the royal college are in denial and frequently publish as if the situation did not exist
    6 the GMC does not recognise this issue
    7 no medical defence organization recognises this issue
    8 no politician would ever consider discussing it
    9 the public are in denial
    10 media outlets ignore the issue
    Reality is rarely popular and fantasy more
    comforting
    To continue the analogy the basic package at the parc includes fundamental safety,a smoke alarm,the NHS does not

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