When Bob Hoskins growled “It’s good to talk” (www.youtube.com) on behalf of British Telecom, in the 1990s, we were being encouraged to spend more time on the phone, chatting to our nearest and dearest.
The telephone has always been integral to GP management of patients in primary care. From the moment the phones ‘go over’ at 8.30am, until we give them back to Out of Hours at 6.30pm, there is a constant flow of calls in and out of the Practice – so much so that we have had to buy an additional ten lines recently, to cope with demand.
Putting to one side, for now, the appropriateness, or otherwise, of some of the calls, telephone consultations have become an essential part of managing the insatiable public demand for access, freeing up face to face appointments for those that need them.
Last week the Locality held an event to look at formally commissioning an ‘Advice and Guidance Service’, to be provided by our Secondary Care Consultant colleagues.
I have to say that I found this somewhat depressing. Isn’t the fact that there has to be an 'event' to formalise the practice of DOCTORS TALKING TO DOCTORS a tragic reflection and indictment of our broken NHS?
It tells me just how far GPs and our secondary care colleagues have been driven apart - just how many managers, administrators and accountants have come between us - blocking common sense patient care.
To be fair to some of the above who are trying to make the broken NHS work, it may also show how disengaged from the Health Care reforms both GPs and Secondary Care doctors have become, working, blinkered in silos, fiercely defending our own interests, oblivious to the utterly bonkers commissioning fiasco unravelling around us, and all that goes with it.
If GPs really care - and some of us do – we battle past hospital switchboard / mood music whilst on hold / ward closure bulletins / waiting list 'co-ordinators' / wrong bleeps / unanswered bleeps / answer machines / secretaries hiding behind answer machines... and get to talk to secondary care colleagues - and you know what? When that happens, more sensible decisions get made – patients get a better deal.
GPs should be able to talk to whoever they need to talk to, when doing a proper job of co-ordinating high quality patient care... does this really need to be commissioned?
It’s good to talk, but equally important to listen… Think on Mr Lansley