Fast Forward 5 Years


Fast Forward Five Years …

Date: 23rd March 2020

Location: A GP Surgery in Birmingham

As the appointment draws to a close…

[Mike (a GP) is sitting at a table talking to his patient Bob]

Bob: You seem a lot happier doc

[Mike checks his watch]

Mike: Compared to when?

Bob: Compared to when I first met you, you know, back in those days when you had only 10 minutes for an appointment and you used to get stressed if you were running late. I don’t know how you could see patients so quickly

Mike [shaking head]: Neither do I, neither do I

Bob: They weren’t exactly the good old days were they? But tell me doc, nothing outwardly seems to have changed with the building and rooms. The car park is still too small, at yet here we are with 15 minute appointments and doctors who seem much happier. What changed?

Mike: Didn’t you read the leaflets that were available at the surgery?

Bob: I don’t read anything  like that. Chuck ‘em away with the pizza leaflets. Actions speak louder than words, I say. But now I’m curious. What gives?

Mike: Have you got a few minutes? I’m actually running ahead of time.

[Bob nods]

Mike: Well, 5 years ago things were getting tough in General Practice. We are paid through a mixture of a lump sum based on the number of patients we see, some performance related pay and also for extra schemes and services. With me so far?

[Bob nods]

Mike: Part of the problem seemed to be that the hoops we were having to jump through and the time that we spent on paperwork  and ticking the right boxes for extra services meant that when we weren’t seeing patients, we were simply drowning in admin. Hospitals were also feeling the squeeze and so they were asking GPs to do more and more things for patients that they had done in the past.

Then there were more and more regulations and inspections to comply with. On top of all that, the NHS had actually done quite a good job at extending peoples’ lives so we were looking after the oldest, sickest, frailest group of patients that had ever been looked after by GPs, without the back up of a properly-funded social service or coherent society.

Bob [interrupting]: No wonder you looked stressed back in 2015, when I was first diagnosed.

Mike: Well, of course. With all the issues it meant that less junior doctors were not choosing to go into General Practice, older GPs were retiring early, the GPs that were left were considering emigrating and no-one seemed able to fix it.

Bob: So what changed?

Mike: Well, a group of GPs  in Birmingham got together and decided that if we could join forces to do all the bureaucratic stuff, you know manage the hitting of performance targets, looking after the inspection guidelines and buy the best stuff at the best price, then it would free up the frontline GPs, like me, to do what we enjoy most; see patients.

If we had dedicated administrators we could actually do better with our performance targets and generate the money to pay them. The more practices grouped together, the more you could save. Simple really. Helped to make the clinical stuff a bit more, you know, manageable when you’ve got the time to think straight.

Bob: And so you end up with happier doctors?

Mike: And, even better,  happier, healthier patients.