An everyday story of Primary Care
We thought The ‘Hitler clip’ had been done to death … but somebody has done a version for general practice which gave us a grin because
(a) it’s an accurate representation of GP-land as we know it and
(b) it’s funny. Have a look and see if you agree.
FINANCIAL LOSSES CELEBRATED IN SONG
In the last financial year (ending 31 March 2015) the practice lost £4760. The practice’s accountant, who specialises in general practice finances, said: “You are my first client to have a pensionable loss!” Having tried all conventional means of trying to get a better deal from the NHS for our patients and end the discrimination which has been defended to the hilt by those who hold the purse-strings, we 'celebrated' our loss in song: 'GP Blues' was well received.
I had already changed my name by Deed Poll to ‘John Cormack-the-Family-Doctor-who-works-for-the-NHS-for-free’ in order to embarrass the NHS Fat Cats – the people who allocate funding. Unfortunately it seems that, so long as they carry on getting their generous pay and perks, they’re not easily embarrassed.
In the latest financial year (relating to the tax return that has just been submitted) we lost £9620 (despite the fact that I'd worked all year 'for free' ... yet again ... and the practice had the lowest doctor to patient ratio in the whole of Mid Essex). We've 'celebrated' the event with another song/video: 'Sweet Nuthin'. Those who work in an NHS which is falling apart at the seams will tell you that, if you don't laugh, you cry. We try to look on the bright side ... but it isn't easy!
To see the video, go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aZRRIYzFjSo ... or Google: youtube greenwood sweet nuthin (and ignore The Black Crowes!)
If any of you are prepared to write letters or emails to complain about being treated as second class citizens by the NHS, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll send you the info you need. You'll get a reply saying 'everything is fair and honest and just as it should be' of course ... but it's still worth the effort.
Thank you for sticking with us!
Not the Nine O'Clock News – and Comic Relief’s Red Nose Day
My name appeared on the credits of an episode of Not the Nine O'Clock News which started with a sketch about children being rounded up and carted off to see the Rolf Harris Show on Saturday mornings. Some have assumed I had something to do with it - but I didn't, in fact, write that sketch. (In its defence… whilst it appears to be in bad taste now the details of Harris' secret life are known, it was fairly innocent at the time).
Given that Red Nose Day is coming up soon, it is an excuse to set the record straight AND invite donations for Comic Relief.
See link below for further details.
Click here for Not the Nine O'Clock News sketch for Comic Relief’s Red Nose Day
JOHN CORMACK-THE-FAMILY-DOCTOR-WHO-WORKS-FOR-THE-NHS-FOR-FREE CHANGED HIS NAME BY DEED POLL IN ORDER TO PUBLICIZE THE PLIGHT OF HIS PATIENTS. NOW HE SINGS ABOUT IT. HE TELLS US WHY...
All GP practices are required to publish online information on the earnings of their GPs by the end of March. For most of the past decade, average GP pay has exceeded £100,000. (See http://www.telegraph.co.uk/…/Average-GP-pay-dips-below-1000…) Things are very different in my practice. To give you an example, in the last financial year, I made a loss of £4,760 (on the basis of the most optimistic calculation) for looking after my much greater than average number of patients. (I currently have 4,400.) To put it another way, I didn't get paid a penny for shouldering a huge responsibility AND had to subsidise the NHS in order that the staff should be paid and my patients should get some sort of service.
I'm not looking for sympathy - what I do want is for recognition that this has a knock on effect on my patients. In the eyes of the NHS, they are second class citizens ... those making the financial decisions genuinely believe that there's nothing wrong with providing my patients with a service that is less safe and more unsatisfactory than we could provide if the surgery was fairly/ethically/honestly funded.
We’ve been campaigning for years to improve the situation. I changed my name by Deed Poll to John Cormack-the-Family-Doctor-who-works-for-the-NHS-for-free to embarrass the fat cats who hold the NHS purse strings - but sadly, so long as they're getting their generous pay and perks, they're not easily embarrassed. My latest venture - I've recorded a reworded cover version of an old Eddie Cochran number
Why a 'record' (as we baby boomers' call them)? It goes without saying that you only do this when you've exhausted 'all the normal channels'. Moreover people (including most media people) are understandably bored to death with explanations of how the NHS is run and funded - you can talk about it until you're blue in the face but nobody listens. You have to do daft things in order to attract any attention at all - hence the change of name.
NHS England, whilst continuing the pretence that all is fair, honest and just as it should be, has admitted in writing that the practice was 'set up' by the former PCT in such a way that its board warned that it was financially unviable. In so doing the board members, whose remit was to protect patients from managers who thought it amusing to play games with the lives and health of patients, condemned those whom they should have protected to a less safe and satisfactory standard of care than would otherwise be the case. To put it another way, they condoned a discriminatory system whereby some patients got a much smaller slice of the NHS cake than their demographically identical neighbours. This was a grave derogation of duty - but a more serious charge is that the NHS has done nothing to deal with the situation over the intervening period.
So … we fight on.
GREENWOOD SURGERY RANKS 3RD IN ESSEX POLL
Click on the link - above - to see the newspaper article.
IMPORTANT SURGERY NEWS UPDATE
Financial Situation - Oct 2015
We have been in a dire financial situation for over a decade – but somehow, with the help of the wonderful people who work here, we have managed to keep going. This month I’m having to pay £8299.65 of my pension into the practice account in order to keep the place ticking over. (This is a LOT more than a ‘month’s worth of pension,’ needless to say.)
To keep our spirits up we fire off letters and emails from time to time to those running the NHS to acquaint them with the situation … not that they’re the slightest bit interested. Here is an extract from my recent letter to the Chief Executive of NHS England.
A word of explanation is required … if a patient (or a clinician) writes to the Chief Exec. (or the Secretary of State for Health) the letter is usually answered by an office junior … regardless of the magnitude of the problem you are raising. You get a stock reply – one which makes no attempt to deal with the matter in hand. What is more, there is never ANY reference to the fact that, in the case of a Chief Executive, ‘the buck stops here.’ The game is to pretend that somebody else is responsible. Presumably the office juniors are instructed to regard this sort of thing as an elaborate version of ‘pass the parcel’ - one in which the music never stops. The idea is to keep passing the complaint or criticism on until the disgruntled patient or NHS employee gets so worn down that s/he gives up.
Anyway … that’s the explanation … here’s the gist of the letter:
London SW1A 2NS
07 October 2015
Dear Simon Stevens
I enclose correspondence that relates to a letter sent to you by a patient at this practice – Ian Gillard.
You should get a senior member of staff to glance through it as my patients have been uniquely short-changed by the NHS for over a decade now. You won’t do that, however, because that’s not the way the NHS works these days.
… etc …
Let me give your most junior member of staff a few ‘bullet points’ in case this reaches him/her on a day when there’s nothing much happening and s/he needs something to occupy his/her time.
- Our patients are currently celebrating a decade of discrimination – during which they could transfer from this practice to ANY of the other practices in the town in which I practice in order to obtain a MUCH larger share of the NHS budget.
- This is the case despite being a single handed practice with some 4300 patients - AND despite being one of the top ‘QOF’ point-scoring practices in the area – and despite providing lots of additional services (such as minor surgery etc). Needless to say, we are claiming for just about everything it is possible to claim for.
- By the same token I am ‘celebrating’ a decade of failing to receive the seniority pay due to me for my years of faithful service to the NHS. The reason is that I don’t earn enough to qualify – so this is effectively a case of being fined by the NHS for being underfunded … by the NHS.
- Because of the extraordinary financial situation here I have changed my name by Deed Poll to Dr John Cormack-the-Family-Doctor-who-works-for-the-NHS-for-free. This was an attempt to embarrass those responsible – all of whom have looked after themselves very well. (Sadly, they’re not easily embarrassed!)
- In addition to getting less than any other practice in the town for looking after our patients (in terms of £ per patient per annum) we also get a substantially smaller budget for drugs for our patients. This is despite the fact that all the practices draw from same (homogeneous) pool of patients in the same (comparatively small) area.
- I was the winner of the Daily Mail’s ‘Health Heroes’ Award and was described by David Cameron as representing “the very best of what a family doctor is all about.” (I would have preferred a ‘warts and all’ assessment.)
- On Monday (5th Oct) I received a call from Rebecca Brown, Senior Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Health. … Section redacted …
Our bookkeeper forecasts that I will need to pay in around £8299.65 into the practice account at the end of the month if we are to stay within our £25,000 overdraft limit and the staff are to be paid.
Anyone with a grain of common sense would immediately spot that there is something very odd going on here. They would also realise that making NHS bodies judge, jury and executioner in their own cases makes it inevitable that there will be abuses.
Even though the facts of the matter are as plain as the nose on your face, NHS England (like the Mid Essex PCT before it) continues the pretence that this practice is fairly and equitably funded. The enclosures give the lie to this claim.
… etc …
In summary – our clinicians have done well to paper over some of the cracks – but we can’t pretend that we are able to offer as safe and satisfactory a service as we could provide if the practice was fairly/equitably/honestly funded by the NHS.
One last point … you say you are setting up an occupational health service for GPs suffering from burnout and stress. How about starting with a 68 year old single handed GP with 4300 patients and a budget that is a candidate for a comedy award?
This has been going on for a long time. Please click on the link below you will see some graphs (together with a few words of explanation) which show our financial situation a while back compared to other practices. All NHS GPs will have to publish their income figures by 31 March 2016 – and, whilst this will push several more into early retirement, we (rather selfishly) would have loved to have all this information in the public domain for the past decade or so.
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