|Photo: Richard Faisey|
Wednesday, 30 May 2012
Three years ago, when I was close to dying from meningitis, an infection I caught post craniotomy, the kind friend who was staying with me got on the phone to Serco, the agency responsible for out of hours calls to GPs, because most GP Practices, at least those in Cornwall, don't make house calls; they leave emergency appeals from patients and carers to NHS Direct, Accident and Emergency Units, and to agencies like Serco.
The prompt action of my friend and the locum who attended me that night saved my life. I wonder if it would be the same scenario today, since Serco now appears to be drowning in a sea of suits and excuses following reports that there are longer and longer queues for out of hours calls and not enough locums to make house visits. I have long had misgivings about the competency, care, and accountability of GPs, so this news about Serco is particularly unnerving. I think my only recourse in an emergency is to do as my neurosurgeon told me and 'cut out the middle man'. In other words, head straight for the hospital. Visions of angry and suffering patients spring to mind, hammering on the doors of A and E. It's a disgrace that the United Kingdom, pioneer in treatment for all at the point of need, should have come to this. Dark times indeed.