Peter Hill is a columnist in the Daily Express. He seems to be their token Grumpy old man, so I often agree with him. It , therefore, annoys me even more, when it looks as if he’s been fed a propaganda piece, disguised to look as if he originated it. the letter, below, was my response to his call to charge people who fail to keep NHS appointments.
Whilst I frequently agree with your view on topics, I was disapppointed to read you picking up the argument made by those who wish to claim that the customer is always wrong.
At present the NHS is free at the point of delivery and there will be some, who abuse the appointment system ( what %age, not including unavoidably missed appointments and fictitious misses) but I don’t believe you’ve thought this through. I suspect, rather, that someone has whispered this in your ear and it sounded like a good space filler for your column.First. Why have appointments?
If a restaurant is very popular then an appointments system makes sense, it saves people being turned away at the door.
For the NHS this should not apply. We never used to make doctor appointments. We turned up, put our name down at reception and waited our turn. If the Surgery was constantly over-crowded, then the G.P. would get another partner. etc.
The point is that it’s the appointment system which creates wasted time.
Second. You are no doubt aware that the NHS is being privatised and sold off, mainly to US Health”care” companies. You are no doubt aware that various local facilities are being closed down and services being re-located to more distant “Centres of Excellence”.
Consider one instance, which applied to myself. An appointment was made for me to be examined with a view to a serious surgical procedure.
The appointment was for 9:00 a.m. at a hospital 20 miles away and far from a main route.
The only way in which I could get there on time, was to drive my wife to work (she’d have an hour wait), then drive to the hospital, find a parking space and locate the correct section of the hospital. We did a dry run, so I wouldn’t waste time finding my way. On the actual day, my wife was able to accompany me, which was a boon, as we were on a main arterial road, which had an accident causing a 1 hour delay.
My wife was able to phone and explain the situation, which had also affected many of their staff.
My wife dropped me at the door and drove off to find some expensive parking.
After a half hour in the waiting room and a 20 minute chat, I was free to leave.
This sorry saga was bad enough but it was free at point of delivery, I had only been 10 mins late and my wife and myself were the only one’s inconvenienced.
Imagine your scenario with a privatised Health Service.
Would the fines stop at £5?
Would there have been any chance of applying some respect for circumstances?
Instead of calling for more ways to fleece the sick (your own paper is running an unsuccessful campaign against ever-rising hospital parking charges), you should be campaigning for a more intelligent delivery of services and greater restraint on gouging the public.