Long Wait Times for Doctor Appointments in UK sends People to the Emergency Rooms Instead

Posted by PITHOCRATES - May 25th, 2013

Week in Review

If you go to some American emergency rooms you could wait to see a doctor for hours.  Unless you’re close to death.  If so then you get to go to the front of the line.  While the less lucky who aren’t as close to death have to wait.  Two, three sometimes even four hours in some cases.  Because that’s how backed up an American emergency room can be.  Why?  Because we don’t have national health care.  And not everyone can afford health insurance.  Something Obamacare was going to fix.  By providing health care to everyone.  So the uninsured no longer back up our emergency rooms.  Just like in other countries with national health care.  Such as Britain (see Can no one force GPs to do their job properly? by Sandra Parsons posted 5/22/2013 on the Daily Mail).

Last week, a friend, a senior doctor in a busy A&E, found herself dealing with a young woman suffering from a urinary tract infection.

While this was undoubtedly painful and potentially dangerous, it was neither an accident nor an emergency.

So why, my harassed doctor friend asked her, hadn’t she gone to see her GP instead?

The patient replied she’d dialled the number over and over again without getting through and, in the end, she went to the surgery to ask for an appointment. The earliest slot, she was told, was ten days’ time. It was at that point she’d gone to A&E instead.

She tried to make an appointment with her doctor but she couldn’t get someone to answer the phone to make an appointment for her.  So she went there in person.  And they basically said, “Okay, I see you’re in terrible pain.  We should take a look at you as soon as possible.  I’ll pencil you in for a rush appointment.  So go home, get some rest and we’ll see you sometime after two weeks to take care of your unbearable pain.  Just hope it doesn’t go septic before then.  NEXT!”

This is national health care.  As done by Britain’s esteemed National Health Service (NHS).  The same NHS they poured accolades all over in the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Olympic Games.  That one.  The treasure of the United Kingdom.  What the left says we should have here.  And it is their fervent hope that Obamacare will evolve into something very much like the NHS.  Because they say that will make health care better.  And keep people from using the emergency rooms for routine medical care because they don’t have health insurance.  Only it’s not working in Britain.  Where people are still going to the emergency room (A/E in Britain) for routine medical care.

An aberration? Far from it: this woman is one of tens of thousands who are turning up at the doors of A&E because they can’t get an appointment with their doctors. The costs involved are huge…

So emergency doctors — highly trained professionals who know how to save your life when you’re having a heart attack or have been in a horrific road accident — find themselves treating minor cuts and chest infections…

Tomorrow, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is due to make a speech criticising GPs for failures that include not knowing their patients’ names and hiving off out-of-hours care to outside agencies. He will also highlight the fact that admissions at A&E departments have soared as a result.

Quite rightly, he lays the blame for this on the changes Labour made to GP contracts nine years ago, which allowed GPs to opt out of night calls and rewarded them for complying with targets rather than for treating patients as individuals…

So it’s hardly surprising patients all over the country have decided they’ve had enough and are bypassing their GPs in favour of their local A&E

What he should be telling us is what action he is taking to ensure that all GPs start doing their jobs properly.

That means making night and weekend calls, the way they used to. It means ensuring that we can all make an appointment for tomorrow or the next day — not next week — or turn up and wait if we’re seriously worried. (Yes, I know a few sterling surgeries do operate like this — but too many don’t.)

It also means that when we walk through the surgery door we should not feel we’re an unwelcome interruption in the surgery’s busy day, but that we’ll be listened to and taken seriously.

The most junior A&E doctor seems to be able to achieve this on a fraction of GPs’ generous pay and with far less sleep. Why can’t GPs?

Not knowing their patients’ names?  Working banking hours?  Say what you want about the American health care system before Obamacare at least our doctors knew our names.  And worked in walk-in emergency clinics after hours.  They weren’t quite an emergency room.  But if you had the flu they could do everything for you short of hospitalization.  Including writing a prescription for you that you could pick up at any number of 24-hour pharmacies.  This was the ‘broken system’ that was in crisis that the left said we had to fix with Obamacare.  So we can have something more like the NHS.  Which sounds worse than the broken system we supposedly had.

Note the comment about their generous pay.  This kind of talk must send shivers down the spines of American doctors.  For as the government takes more control of health care and begins to rein in those high health care costs guess how they’re going to do that?  Cutting that generous pay of doctors.  Because no one should be profiting on the sickness of others.  No.  Under Obamacare doctors should answer to a higher calling.  To serve his fellow man.  Not for the money but for the satisfaction of a job well done.  Yeah, that’ll encourage high school graduates everywhere to go into great debt and work a 90 hour week so they, too, can serve their fellow man.

Americans can’t even graduate enough people with math and science degrees.  So American corporation have to rely on foreigners to fill some high-paying high-tech positions.  Are they going to do the same with our medical care because fewer American students will want to go through that Hell just to earn the wages of a UAW assembly line worker?  When it’s a lot easier and less costly to be a UAW assembly line worker?

Could this be the problem they’re having in the NHS?  That they’re not paying their doctors enough to encourage others to enter the profession leading to a shortage of doctors?  Forcing people to the emergency room because they just don’t have enough doctors to see patients in the doctor’s office?  You hear all the time about how we have to pay our federal employees fat salaries and give them generous benefit packages to compete with jobs in the private sector (though few jobs in the private sector enjoy the pay and benefit packages a federal job offers).  But if a doctor makes that kind of money something is wrong with that.  Because no one should profit on the sickness of others.  But a federal worker with a far easier job paid with tax dollars?  They have no problem with these people earning what a doctor earns.  Or at least what a doctor once earned.  Before Obamacare.

Once the government starts paying doctors there will be a push to unionize them.  And then everything will change.  Then the government will want to pay them more.  Cut their working hours.  Hire more doctors.  All of which will require massive new taxes.  While giving an expanding government a powerful new ally.  And a huge source of new political donations.  As they’ll collect a piece of the union dues the newly unionized doctors will pay.  And America will never be the same again.  If you worried about the IRS targeting conservatives just imagine the special treatment conservatives will get in a health care system controlled by liberal Democrats.  Of course, a non-partisan health care system would never base a treatment decision on one’s politics.  Just because the government used the IRS to target conservatives doesn’t mean they will use a national health care system to do the same.

When President Reagan was shot he joked while being wheeled into the operating room, “I hope you guys are Republicans.”  The joke broke the tension and the doctors laughed.  Then one said, “Mr. President, today we are all Republicans.”  They then went about saving the president’s life.  In the future it might be wise to ask instead, “Gee, I sure hope you guys are all Democrats.”  Just to be safe.

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