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Funding cuts will intensify GP waiting room dramas

I visited a client last Friday, and realised that I have been looking after this practice and the same bookkeeper since 1988. I remember this clearly as my daughter had just been born, and the practice adopted her name as their password to their bookkeeping program! I would like to think that good service and personal care is largely responsible for them continuing as our clients - we do try.

That having been said, without mentioning names, I have encountered problems with my phone, a broken dishwasher and a missed delivery from a department store, all of which have ended up in a very unhappy exchange with customer care, whose function it seems to me is to anything other than resolve the problem. Take my advice, start at the Chief Executive and work down. It works.

Given this theme, I found myself in the waiting room of a GP practice last week. I was there to chat about the accounts, and the partners were running late so I sat in the waiting room. The tension was almost unbearable. There were all these patients waiting to be called, and as the display chimed and the words "patient xxx to room 4" the remaining patients muttered, swore and took it in turns to complain to the beleaguered receptionists.

How can you match the inexhaustible demands of patients with finite resources in the GP surgery? In many cases the problems are made worse by resources being cut to GP surgeries, list cleaning being the major factor. In fact, I was told many years ago by a man that knows, that primary care was funded by 110% of the population as the powers that be realise that GPs will be treating more patients than are on their list. What's the betting that less than 100% of the population are now funded. Where the cuts in resources are excessive, the practice has to decide whether to bear the cost themselves or reduce the level of service. In many cases it is a mixture of the two, and the waiting room drama's will only intensify.

I had to laugh this morning. As readers of my blog will know I have expressed my doubts about the wisdom of striking over pensions. Walking to a client in Camden today I ran into a demonstration by traffic wardens demanding a pay rise. Not many hoots of support.

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