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Super Surgeries: GP's Accused of Lying to Patients!

Politics / NHS Jun 13, 2008 - 12:56 AM GMT

By: N_Walayat


Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticleIn an attempt to halt the governments programme for the implementation of Polyclinics or ‘Super Surgeries', the political arm of GP's the British Medical Association (BMA) delivered a petition of more than 1 million signatures to Downing Street against the implementation of 150 ‘Super Surgeries' and for existing GP Surgeries to be protected.

The Health Minister, Ben Bradshaw lashed out at the scare tactics accusing the BMA of "misleading and mendacious" behaviour in getting patients to sign up to the petition.

"I am not surprised the BMA has collected so many signatures, given the misleading and mendacious nature of its campaign.

"If I were to run a campaign making false claims that something terrible was about to happen, a lot of people would sign my petition too.

"We have received widespread anecdotal evidence of patients feeling pressurised to sign the petition as well as practices telling their patients blatant inaccuracies about local plans." he said.

The facts of the matter are that as the NHS approaches its 60th anniversary in July, which during the past 10 years has enjoyed a phenomenal increase in funding at the rate of between 7% and 8% per annum in real terms. Well beyond the countries trend GDP growth rate of 2.5% per annum.

The group that has benefited the most have been GP's that have seen average pay increase From £42,000 in 1996 to more than £120,000 today.

The above graph clearly illustrates the impact of the incompetent Labour government GP contracts that came into force for the year 2003-04, which saw GP Pay soar during the following 3 years. If GP Pay had grown in line with average earnings, then the current average GP salary should be £65,900, against the actual average of over £121,000.

According to the National Audit Office, the number of NHS GP's has increased by 15% from 26,833 to 30,931 since 2003, this is as a consequence of the GP contracts debacle, at the same time GP's are working on average 7 hours per week less, therefore a cut in productivity of 18% on a normal working week and thus on balance resulting in little improvement in patient healthcare despite a tripling in costs.

The losers here are clearly the tax payer and the patient where GP's salaries are now twice what they should be on average earnings basis, and patients suffer from increasingly being on the receiving end of worthless 2 minute diagnoses due to GP's treating patients as ATM cards to quickly swipe in and out of their surgeries as each patient consultation is worth £50 to the surgery.

Another method of increasing surgery earnings is by de-registering patients and re-registration, this results in a bonus fee for a new registrant when it is the same patient at the same surgery, how many patients have experienced this act of cooking the books to boost income ?

The current system is designed so that each patient has to visit their GP between 5 and 10 times before they are likely to receive a competent diagnoses and referral made, this means life threatening diagnoses such as cancer can be delayed from anywhere from a few months to a few years.

The governments cancer expert warned in an interview with the Observer that GP's are failing to diagnose cancer symptoms.

"Patients are dying of cancer because GP's are failing to identify their symptoms, the government's top cancer expert has warned. Professor Mike Richards said botched diagnoses were now 'a significant concern'. 'Ultimately it can mean that the cancer has progressed to a stage where it can't be cured,' he said. Failed diagnoses also meant that, when cancers were eventually spotted, particularly aggressive treatments, such as chemotherapy or surgery, had to be used. 'That could be a mastectomy rather than perhaps a breast conserving operation, '

The key goals for the super surgeries will be to expand on facilities available and opening times so that they are better able to suit the working population. The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has warned health authorities to stop discriminating against men, which has resulted in men being more than twice as likely to die from the same cancers as women. Currently the NHS and GP Surgeries discriminate against men and those living within deprived wards, which comprises more than 60% of the UK population. Therefore barely 40% of the UK population is receiving competent GP surgery services and NHS hospital healthcare.

The other group discriminated against are those living within deprived wards. The primary reason for this is that incompetent GP's tend to cluster together within these surgeries and hence provide substandard healthcare to those who are the least able to complain against poor healthcare services. This has lead to a near third world level of life expectancy amongst many deprived wards of as much as 17 years less. This was recently highlighted by the Liberal Democrats Leader Nick Clegg who voiced the shocking difference in life expectancy within his own city of Sheffield between affluent wards such as Fullwood and deprived wards such as Darnall.

The Labour government incompetence is responsible in the formation of GP contracts that allowed themselves to be hood winked during the negotiation process, and the only real solution is to give the patients the ability to choose any GP , whether NHS or private in any locality for consultations rather the limitation of using another GP within the existing surgery or being forced to change GP's within the area which can take as long as four weeks, and unlikely to make any significant difference.

Since the patients are treated as ATM cards, the only real change will come when patients are actually given NHS ATM card, that they can use at any GP or NHS facility, perhaps even private facility in the country, therefore those GP's surgeries that perform will attract more patients and those that are incompetent will lose patients.

The government has belatedly recognised the serious problems due to incompetent GP contracts that have resulted in money meant for patient healthcare being pocketed by GP partners, and have thus started to implement a programme of creating 150 super surgeries with the aim of by-passing the worst GP practices, primarily within the deprived areas of Britain. However to make a real difference to the problem the number of super surgeries needs to be increased to at least 750 to put the 2000 worst most incompetent GP practices out of business.

The response to this call for better patient healthcare has been met by GP's employing scare tactics as I have warned in several articles over the past few months. The Government needs to keep firm in the implantation of Super Surgeries and NOT perform another U-turn.

The Super Surgeries whilst a great improvement are still only a stop gap measure, the real solution will only come with a radical government that is willing to empower the patient, unfortunately that is unlikely to happen under a Labour government due to several millions of votes that New Labour relies upon coming from those that ride the NHS gravy train and therefore it may be necessary for a strong majority Conservative government to implement the necessary reforms so that the patient is put first by means of the money directly flowing with the patient via the NHS Patient / Customer ATM Card. If the GP or NHS facility fails to deliver competent healthcare then the patients can instantly go elsewhere, more so in the age of the internet where GP / NHS hospital ranking web sites can steer patients towards good GP surgeries and NHS facilities.

In this regards the Market Oracle in the interests of public health is looking into the creation of an online rating service for all GP surgeries in advance of the day when patients have the right to choose competent healthcare and endeavoring to push the case in favour of patient choice against the current system which works against the patient right from GP surgery through the hospitals and for many increasingly into an early grave. The current system of healthcare within the UK is unacceptable for 21st Century Britain and needs to be reformed.

By Nadeem Walayat

Copyright © 2005-08 (Market Oracle Ltd). All rights reserved.

Nadeem Walayat has over 20 years experience of trading, analysing and forecasting the financial markets, including one of few who both anticipated and Beat the 1987 Crash. Nadeem is the Editor of The Market Oracle, a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication. We present in-depth analysis from over 150 experienced analysts on a range of views of the probable direction of the financial markets. Thus enabling our readers to arrive at an informed opinion on future market direction.

Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any trading losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors before engaging in any trading activities.

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