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How I was reminded PCTs are intent on making life difficult for GPs

Whatever your faith, this is a reflective time of year and an experience on Christmas Eve here in southern Florida reminded me of the new world attitude we have to live in.

My wife and I took our daughter and her friend to a popular Brazilian restaurant in Fort Lauderdale, where different meats are brought to the table on long skewers and served with deftness and panache. Or so we thought.

Our reservation was for 7:45, and, me being me, after a 20-mile drive, we turned up on time at 7:45. We were told our table would be ready momentarily, (they use this word a lot in the USA) and were seated at the bar. At 8:20 we were still seated, and my wife asked the smiling girl at the greeting desk what was happening. The conversation went something like this:

Wife: ‘What’s happening to our table?’

Smiling Girl: ‘Oh we have no water, there is a supply problem so we can’t sit you.’

Wife: ‘But you are serving all these people.’

Smiling Girl: ‘Yes but they were sat at 8:00 when the water went off.’

Wife: ‘We had a reservation at 7:45 and if you had sat us when we arrived we would be having dinner wouldn’t we?’

Smiling Girl: ‘There is nothing I can do…’

Wife: ‘Get me the manager…’

The manager went to great lengths to tell us that this was not his fault and we should go elsewhere. We pointed out this was Xmas eve, now 8:30 and it would be impossible to get a table elsewhere. ‘Sue the city or the water company’ was his unhelpful response.  It all sounds petty, but you have to picture the scene, we are looking at an almost full restaurant serving its guests with gusto, seeing the empty table of four, and this manager struggling to find reasons why he can’t serve us.  After some serious indignation, we went away with a plate of   appetizers and four vouchers for a free meal.

I said to my wife (who is also a GP) that this reminds me of home. PCTs which used to work with GPs but now seem intent on making life difficult for them. Cutting budgets (from a contract that GPs negotiated – not imposed on the DoH),  paying their GPs late, and dealing with their GPs in an adversarial rather than co-operative manner. This ugly attitude has infected/been infected by the Press, especially the Daily Telegraph with its vitriolic attacks on GPs.

I am not really surprised, I remember a few years ago a senior PCT officer proudly telling me his PCT has just received World Class status. It almost made me weep. The manager of the restaurant, and the PCT are all deluded. They have forgotten their role. They are to facilitate the mission, be it to look after hungry customers or helping GPs serve patients.

Am I optimistic for 2012? Not really, but as they say here, remember the Alamo.

Oh – you are probably wondering – what am I going to do with the four free meal vouchers ? I am pleased to tell you that four lucky vagrants from Fort Lauderdale will be enjoying a slap up meal.

Wishing us all a happy healthy and prosperous 2012.

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