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2017? Prepare for your receptionist to be privatised



April 2017. Following the excellent performance of private companies in general practice support in 2016, NHS England will decide to award them further contracts. By the end of the year, they will take over all telephone, computer and reception services.

The new private receptionist has no idea what a GP does

Staying true to form, patients will have no problem booking appointments, unless of course they want one in the correct surgery with the correct GP, and within a sensible timeframe.

Occasionally, frustrated patients will attend their surgeries to try and book appointments in person. Sadly, practices will be surrounded by 10ft walls of patient records and unfiled notes. Those brave few who manage to fight through the nigh-impenetrable wall of medical records and get into reception will prove that they’re too well to really need a GP and promptly leave. This is good, as the new private receptionist has no idea what a GP does, nor how to book an appointment with one.

NHS England is then likely to declare a huge contracting success. The change will see demand for GPs significantly drop: well no one will have booked an appointment for months anyway. Consequently, there will no longer be a recruitment or retention crisis. General practice will be well-staffed, well-run and has capacity for its patients. Well done private company.

Elsewhere, and totally coincidentally, the Royal College of Funeral Directors will declare a ‘state of emergency’. They will report a huge increase in workload and require more funeral directors to cope. Their contracting body, National Funeral Directors England, will deny there is really a problem, but, as a generous concession, they will help. They’ve will design the ‘Funeral Directors Forward View’.

This will support the funeral directors by offering them resilience training, helping to streamline their administration, and maybe even helping with transport of bodies. In fact, they will chat to NHS England about transporting important items, and fortuitously, they know of an excellent private company.

Dr Susie Bayley is a GP in Derby and chair of GP Survival. You can follow her on Twitter @susiebayley

Read more of the Pulse bloggers’ light-hearted looks ahead to 2017 over the next week