I’ve been reading the minutes of first meeting between the UK Parliament’s all-party Health Committee and our new Secretary of State for Health, Alan Johnson back in July.
Our Health Secretary believes we the patients and carers will override our GP’s recommendation of a particular consultant on the basis of hearsay.
However, Drs Rant and Crippen and the Committee have noted that Choose and Book does not allow them to choose individual consultants. So neither the GPs’ recommendation nor the patient’s preference for a particular consultant can be exercised.
This is, in my opinion, also demanding that the patient/carer make some clinical decisions. Our Health Secretary thinks we, the patients and carers, can make decisions on the advantages and disadvantages of invasive or non-invasive surgery for our particular condition. Yes, I have the right to weigh up advice from my GP or my consultant on this, but I really do not have the medical knowledge not to follow their recommendations.
And I have a Masters degree.
On the day we arrived, we were given a preliminary diagnosis by the (trainee) Senior House Officer and he shot us off to the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital – no choice. But the right decision.
On arrival we were not given a choice of consultant – I am happy we were allocated to John and not T. – John is less “patronising” in our own and others’ opinions (T. does need some lessons in patient – doctor social interaction!). But the clinical treatment would be the same. The support of the nursing staff would be the same. The support of social services would be the same. Our favourite two volunteer ambulance staff who take them all to hospital (i.e. two retired people volunteering their own cars, get paid fuel and nothing else, who were at first crotchety old people and who are now wonderful young people and are marvellous!) would be the same.
The Rt. Hon. Kevin Barron, Chair of the meeting, pointed out that patient/carers choices are currently more concerned with distance to the hospital, car-parking fees and waiting lists. And rightly so.
The healthcare professionals, whether GPs, nurses, consultants, ambulance drivers, paramedics, social services’ workers, physiotherapists, teachers etc are paid to take decisions for us. Even the RMCH clown (paid through charity not government) has to make a decision whether a child is up to their decision to entertain!
So Mr Secretary of State, give us the power to choose distance to the hospital (local hospitals!), car-parking fees and waiting lists. And give our GP the right to choose our clinician!