My initial reaction to NHS England’s plans to pressurise us into opening on the Saturday of the Easter Break was, damn: that was when I’d been planning to check that all my elderly patients’ homes were not so cold they’d get hypothermia and not so warm their Easter Eggs would melt. Now I’ll have to schedule that somewhere between confirming their carbon monoxide sensor is working and force-feeding them statins on account of them being just alive enough to have time for a stroke or heart attack.
Then I thought, hang on – I already pay back part of my global sum to avoid the gonad-grinding torture that is OOH. So NHS England’s ‘open-or-else’ letter to CCGs can’t mean that. And routine contractual work stops at 6.30 pm on a Friday or, in the case of Easter, Thursday. So it can’t mean that, either.
A closer look at the wording reveals a deliberate ambiguity. Among the usual management bullshit of ‘robust demand and capacity plans’ and ‘continuing operational resilience’, it slips in the need for, ‘Routine GP surgery capacity on the Saturday morning on the Bank Holiday weekend’.
That’s it, then. It’s a phishing scam. It’s pretending to remind us that those Extended Hours surgeries on Saturday mornings should remain despite the fact that everyone, including the patients, will have buggered off for the Easter break.
But it’s actually hoping that those of us who don’t do extended hours will be duped into doing some and those of us who do might be conned into doing some more.
In which case, I think they made a mistake with the wording, ‘Greetings most excellent doctor, my name is Doris and I hope this mail will get to you in a wonderful and perfect health condition.’
The only other explanation is that NHS England knows we’ll give it the two-fingered salute – as evidenced by the 50-odd two fingered salutes the story, at the time of writing, has already elicited from all those most excellent doctors.
In which case, maybe they’re stitching us up for a ‘Lazy GPs pig out on chocolate while everyone else dies’ story in the Daily Mail. But why on earth would they want to do that?
Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex. You can follow him on Twitter @DocCopperfield.