The Shock of the Real

I saw Tony Blair the other day. Well not so much him as his entourage. They were belting south down the M61 while I was belting north. A procession of cars, police outriders and flashing lights.

And that’s about as close as I’ve come to a politician during this election. Not one has knocked on my door and asked if they can count on my vote. In fact, I can’t recall a politician ever door-stepping me.

Now that strikes me as odd. The impression of politicos we get from the telly is that they spend the weeks before an election in a mad frenzy of baby kissing, hand-shaking and inane grinning, labouring 24 hours a day to win our hearts and minds. In fact they do no such thing.

The people they meet are either existing loyal supporters who are going to vote for them anyway or those who totally oppose their policies and wouldn’t dream of granting them their cross. So when they do meet ‘ordinary’ people, it can come as a bit of a shock.

Take last night. TB was on Question Time and was amazed to discover that while you can get an appointment to see a GP within 48 hours, you can’t book one beyond that time, so if you want to see him or her a week from today, you have a two day window of next Thursday and Friday to book yourself in.

“That’s absurd,” he said and he was right. That’s what a lot of us have been thinking for a long time. The idea was sound enough — to guarantee that you can see a doctor within 48 hours if you want urgent treatment. The key to the conundrum is the word ‘urgent’.

The need to consult your GP isn’t always desperate. Some of us actually want to book an appointment for next week or the week after. The trouble is that if we did that we would clog up the surgery list for that day and the practice would risk breaking its 48-hour target for urgent cases.

The answer? Don’t accept any appointments beyond 48 hours. Yes Tony, the real world can be a bewilderingly silly place and it’s all thanks to the politicians.

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

2 comments… Add yours
  • Mike 3rd May 2005

    It's a week at our surgery, it becomes laughable when the doctor tells you to book another appointment to see him a month in advance, will the receptionist do it? Will she hell.

    The obvious answer is to allocate a block of time in the day that appointments can be booked for. Allocating other blocks of time when patients requiring ad-hoc urgent appointments can just drop in. But that would need someone common sense to sort it out, not some pre-programmed receptionist.

  • Shooting Parrots 3rd May 2005

    I'm not sure it is the receptionists' fault most of the time. I suspect that some GPs are playing silly buggers because they don't like being told what to do.


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