Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Altruistic Plumber - Part II

The doctor or nurse or emergency responder or other health-worker, or social-worker, or teacher etc are widely perceived to have chosen their profession because they want to do good to the world.

Sorry to disillusion you.

We choose it, we do it, because, we think, we, maybe, will be good at it. And if, by chance, we are, we earn good money sometimes.

And that applies to the shop-assistant, the road-sweeper, the bank-manager and ... the Altruistic Plumber.

After finishing my Bachelor's degree, I went to work in Darfur. Out of an altruistic desire to help ¨poor¨ Africans? Far from it. Out of a desire to see the world, out of a spirit of adventure, to see if teaching suited me - yes. And if I did something good along the way, fine (then I can feel warm and fuzzy inside).

This government now wants to renege on the contract it negotiated with the General Practitioners and force them back to providing out-of-hours (OOH) services but, unlike our Altruistic Plumber who is all too willing to provide OOH for a price, with no extra compensation. And the Doctors are obliged to comply with the European Working Time Directive (EWTD) which, I am sure our Altruistic Plumber is not or can easily ignore.

The NHS Trusts were charged, after the new GP contract, with providing OOH services, and have failed miserably (not necessarily their own fault). So, as sticking-plasters they are coming up with ideas such as Nurse Practitioners, Walk-In Centres in supermarkets and High Streeet pharmacy chains, ontracting these to VirginHealth, all held together by the NHS IT Spine.

One NHS Trust, NHS Grampian, the BBC reported yesterday, has come up with an innovative solution to the provision of OOH - they fly in eastern European doctors for the weekend!

At least you will get to see a real doctor. Of course, no guarantee of EWTD compliance ... so you will probably get to see an over-tired, stressed OOH practitioner.

Don´t sue the Trust, sue the government!

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