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Don’t meddle with what you don’t know

Oh dear. I'm sure Dr Penny Dash means well but her comments about efficiency savings show what a pickle we can get into when hospital or public health physicians, no doubt very learned but who haven't laid hands on a patient for a decade and a half, meddle with things beyond their understanding (‘GPs should offer "group consultations" to save cash, say McKinsey').

I'm talking about compassion, charity and treating a patient like a person, not a statistic. No, a patient who has a knee replacement won't go line dancing the next day. But that doesn't mean such operations are worthless – pain relief transforms lives.

A hip replacement has just taken my wife out of her wheelchair (caused by a fall and osteoporotic fracture last Christmas) and allowed her to walk again. She will be vastly less dependent on the state and will be able in due course, once healed and rehabilitated, to renounce her disability living allowance and motability car and save the cost of the operation many times over.

From Dr Peter Swinyard, chair of Family Doctor Association and GP in Swindon, Wiltshire