How enthused are we all about the leadership contenders for the Conservative Party?! Hello? Anyone?
In their attempts to outdo each other’s insane and reactionary policies, Liz Truss has distanced herself completely from the Boris Johnson regime. Unfortunately, it wasn’t by denouncing the lockdown parties, or reversing the Rwanda policy – instead, she decided the ‘levelling up’ policy was the most egregious element of the Johnson government, so she has committed to ‘level down’ public sector pay (we were only joking when we suggested this Liz).
For his part, Rishi Sunak has proposed a £10 charge for GP appointment ‘did not attends’ (DNAs). It might be that this is a policy that has been formulated over months, modelled with a full impact assessment and has been agreed with GP groups and patient groups. I strongly suspect, however, that this was a case of 2 + 2 equals £10.
There is so much wrong with this. First, the assumption that DNAs are a bad thing in the first place. Some GPs might say so, but for others they are time to catch up and ensure that following appointments are less rushed and waiting times are shortened.
Second, this will more likely affect those with mental health problems – who have good reasons for missing appointments and feel unable to inform their practices – than those who simply can’t be bothered turn up.
Finally, and most importantly, this will not reduce waiting lists and will probably even lengthen them. By putting this fee in place, it reduces the guilt aspect of failing to turn up to an appointment and it is not enough to provide a financial dent to most patients, apart from those who are already deprived. I suspect more people will decide they feel more ok with missing an appointment with that fine assuaging any guilt.
And more importantly, according to Sunak’s supporter Greg Hands MP, GPs would be administering this, and would be using their own discretion. This could be disastrous for the GP-patient relationship, but that is of minor importance compared with the workload it would add to practices. Which would, in turn, increase waiting lists.
But I’m sure Sunak’s team have considered all this. Right?