Monday’s Channel Four Dispatches programme featured Squeeze Esmail, a sharp professor of general practice, now turned part-time undercover Taliban operative. He lined up some stooges with a collection of red flag symptoms – so-called because they should indicate to any doctor the possibility of serious disease – and fitted them with spook-cams before sending them off to see dodgy GPs, most of whom had un-pronounceable names, and/or worked out of shady lock-up retail premises. The dodgy doctors duly obliged, failing to spot the suicide vests so visibly strapped to their patients chests. Jon Snow presented, with a mixture of knight’s move reporting and come-off-it interviews with Stilton, the chief pongo at the GMC. All in all, the programme raised some important questions, which Dr No may return to another day, but that didn’t stop the Jobbing Doctor from wailing, and hammering yet another nail into his already shattered foot on the cross.
Meanwhile, the ever excellent Witch Doctor and her sharp-eyed black cat have been sniffing out another variety of ratty general practice. Yesterday, they pounced on the Haxby Group, a motley collection of suits dressed as GPs with more than an eye for the main chance. Having some time ago spotted Lansley’s silver salver heading in their direction, the Group have now grasped it with both hands, and placed competitively priced surgical canapés on it, and offered them en masse to their patients:
“We are holding your details on a list of patients who require a minor surgical procedure that is no longer paid for by the NHS. We have waited to see if the situation would alter but unfortunately, as the attached NHS information leaflet explains, it appears not and we can no longer offer your procedure as one of our NHS services. As a result I am writing to make you aware of some of the options that you have to have the procedure completed as a private patient.”
Dear, oh dear! How unfortunate! What is the NHS coming too! But never fear! – help is at hand:
“HBG Ltd Are Pleased To Announce A New Private Minor Operation Service!”
“This new service offers the following procedures at a cost of:
|Seborrhoeic Warts||£156.40||Benign Lesion (inc moles)||£243.00|
|Sebaceous Cysts||£214.01||Simple Viral Warts||£156.40|
If you would like to book an appointment for any of the above procedures or would like more information regarding the service please contact…”
Ninety-nine quid for a spot of family bible bashing does seem a bit steep, but hey! – even moles get fixed! – and that should satisfy even the most rat-hungry black cat! But – somehow – it didn’t…
So, the question Dr No asks himself is this: which of these two ends of the spectrum – Snow’s dodgy docs, or the Haxby suits – is the real face of modern British general practice? Or does the truth lie elsewhere? If it does, then he respectfully asks:
Would the real GPs please stand up?