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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Why we're so popular with patients

Why we're so popular with patients

From Dr Anita Sharma

Oldham

My patients like me so much they want to see me at all hours. They do not want to go to the walk-in centre and nor are they happy with NHS Direct advice.

The questions inserted by the Government into the patient access survey (News, 26 October) clearly show who is running the show.

As health care professionals our duty is to our patients and we should have a greater say.

In my opinion the survey is not only incomplete but also meaningless.

I would suggest asking patients two questions:

1 Why did you want to see the GP outside normal working hours of 9am to 6pm?

• cough, cold or sore throat

• to get a sicknote

• muscular back pain

• stress at work

• other (specify )

2 Who do you prefer to seek medical advice from (rank in order)?

• GP

• walk-in centre

• private sector

• NHS Direct

This survey would tell us why our patients want to see us at all times.

If access to the GP is the problem, the money should be directed there.

• From Dr David Church

Machynlleth, Powys

I would like to work shorter hours not longer. To open longer hours would require an additional partner, plus a huge increase in the cost of ancillary staff for the extra hours.

Our local health board is broke, and I do not see the Government adequately funding it.

• From Dr Niall Riddell

Swallowfield, Berkshire

We are contracted to provide services from 8am until 6.30pm on weekdays.

One would not then expect a question in the patient experience survey relating to matters outside our terms of service and outside the terms of the access DES.

Other providers have been charged with these

services. The Government seems to forget the new contract was very much

about working hours and conditions.

We have bitten the bullet on the bits we don't like, but they do not seem prepared to do the same.

Our practice did offer to provide a Saturday morning service for the PCT but this was turned down.

I wonder how most GPs might answer the following question:

Over the past six months

or so were you satisfied with the availabilty of your local MP?

• Yes, I was satisfied.

• No, I was dissatisfied and would like him/her to visit

me at my home to discuss various political matters early in the morning at my convenience.

• No, I was dissatisfied and would like him/her to visit

me at my home, etc, in the evening.

• No, I was dissatisfied because s/he will not come and discuss matters at the weekend at my convenience.

• No, I was dissatisfied for some other reason.

I think we all know that this question is very poorly worded with only one possible positive response and four negatives. I think we all know the answers we would give.

When I joined the NHS more than 20 years ago there was some degree of trust between the Family Practitioner Committees and GPs. Sadly the actions of the politicians have eroded this to the detriment

of all.

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