In praise of the NHS

stethoscopeThe other morning, I had an appointment with my GP. She was, as always, cheerful, pleasant, understanding and efficient. She was also rushed off her feet, overworked and headed for exhaustion.

The list of patients she must see is growing to the point where it is almost impossible to book an appointment unless you can wait several weeks for it. She’s working double shifts just to keep up. And it’s getting worse.

As a patient, I’ve done my share of moaning. I don’t like it when I need to see her and can’t get in. I hate having to phone at 8am for an on-the-day appointment, knowing that if I haven’t got through by 8.05am the likelihood is, all available appointments will be gone.

But really, my frustrations are minor when compared to hers. If I have an emergency, I can visit A&E instead. If I’m not sure that’s an appropriate action, I can call 111 for help. If I want advice for something minor, the pharmacist is usually able to help. In short, I have other ways to deal with my problems.

Not so, the GP. She’s still got to see and help her patients, check and write all the repeat prescriptions they request, write or dictate letters and official forms, and a whole host of other things. And she has to do it all competently, politely and without complaint.

And the Government wants her to work seven days a week?

A few years ago, about the time that those MPs who were civic minded people with a history of living in the real world were replaced by slick professionals who’d never had any other career, they cut the hours at the House of Commons. Out went the long days and the late night sessions and the weekend working – all the things they now want to impose on our GPs.

If working those hours are so essential, then the MPs should lead by example. Double shifts, seven day weeks, no long summer recesses… Then, and only then, will they have the right to tell someone else they aren’t working hard enough.

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About Caitlyn Callery

I have been a writer all my life. As well as Regency Romances, which I write as Caitlyn Callery, I also write stage plays, sketches and screenplays under the name Hilary Mackelden. I also have a weekly column in the Kent and Sussex Courier, and do publicity and PR for the charity, World In Need. I live in Sussex and love, (in alphabetical order) Ashdown Forest, my family, Jesus, reading and the sea.
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