Friday, March 7, 2008

Let's work to make GPs' longer hours useful hours

Well done to GPs for accepting the will of the government and the people and announcing their willingness to implement longer surgery hours.

Former Tory chancellor Ken Clarke has said that the BMA were the toughest trade-union he ever dealth with (and that includes Scargill's miners). Among the many reasons for this are both the strong public support for health professionals and the BMA's disciplined and intelligent organisation. But this episode has been a PR disaster for them.

First, they claimed that people didn't want longer hours and there were media reports of at least one GP practice 'encouraging' patients to sign a petition saying they didn't want greater flexibility. (Words like turkeys, voting and Christmas come to mind.) This attitude aliented organisations who had always worked closely - and very well - with the BMA like the Men's Health Forum.

Now the docs turn round and say the 'majority of GPs were and remain willing to provide extended hours surgeries'. Very confusing - even to me and I've been following this saga. Heaven knows what the average patient makes of it.

Anyway the BMA want to draw a line under this episode and we're happy to do that. So let's propose a toast. Here's to doctors speaking more plainly to their patients in future both in and out of the surgery and to the healthy relationships that this approach attitude will promote.

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