Copperfield lets off some steam around the scheme for GPs to prescribe heating to patients
What have all the following got in common?
- Dog walking
- Fruit & veg
- Bird watching.
Correct. They are all things GPs can, could or should ‘prescribe’ for their patients. I’ve not made any of these up. You can append ‘on prescription’ to each, and Google will find an example. And now you can add to that list, ‘heating’.
Incredible. It’s only a matter of time before the ‘on prescription’ concept is extended to air, frogs and poetry. In fact, poetry’s already there, I just checked. The only thing I can never seem to prescribe is medication, thanks to prescribing-switch software, OTC initiatives and supply shortages.
Of course, these aren’t actual prescriptions, are they? They’re just snappy titles/lazy shorthand for schemes where GPs provide some kind of pseudoprescription document enabling the patient to access local facilities, usually at a subsidy. Because it’s good for their health, right? Admittedly, the medical need might be dubious and the actual benefit tenuous (me singing certainly wouldn’t help me and would definitely harm others). But that’s the idea.
What I don’t get is why this requires GP time and endorsement. If a patient thinks a spot of archaeology might ease their fibromyalgia – unlikely, unless they dig up some tramadol – then so be it. But why should I be the arbiter of access to soft psychosocial benefits? And why would I want to collude in infantilising my patients and fostering further dependence on GPs?
So please, let’s ban this process, and that starts by banning the phrase ‘GPs to provide XXX on prescription’. Otherwise, I prescribe a riot.
Dr Copperfield is a GP in Essex. Read more of his blogs here