Why Are Doctors Working 9 to 5?
According to a study conducted in 2012, if you are admitted to the emergency department on a Saturday or Sunday, you have a 9.5 per cent higher risk of dying than you would if you were admitted on any other day of the week. Despite this, doctors are still working 9 to 5 hours.
- If you live in the UK, there is no chance you could see your GP outside of business hours.
- If you happen to fall ill outside these hours, bad luck for you. This is not only true for GPs, as many other specialists work Post Office hours.
- For example, if you needed to consult a diabetic specialist over the weekend, the best you can get is a junior doctor who, in most cases, does not even have a specialty yet.
The Government has recently announced that doctors’ surgeries should open until 8 pm 7 days a week in the future. Prime Minister, David Cameron, unveiled the scheme at the beginning of October and it follows widespread frustration among millions of patients all over the country. The rising pressure on the emergency departments at weekends and the inconvenient opening hours during the week are two problems that this scheme hopes to resolve.
Are We Really Getting Value for these 6-figure Salaries?
The opinions on the subject vary, of course, with many doctors not wanting to give up their cosy schedules. Most people feel that paying doctors 6 figure salaries out of their pocket through the NHS should entitle them to better care and the possibility of getting an appointment without having to skip work for it. Other measures that should be put in place to enhance flexibility include the possibility of speaking to the family doctor on the phone or even over Skype. The prescriptions system should also get revamped in the near future.
At the moment, it can take up to a month to get an appointment with a GP. This is not only frustrating, but also dangerous. The UK has a problem with letting cancer patients think that there is nothing wrong with them until there is nothing to be done anymore. This is not because of doctors’ incompetence, but simply because people get round to have their problem checked too late.
Unacceptable and Dangerous Length of Time for Referral
Let’s take the case of breast cancer. This is one of the situations in which weeks can make the difference between life and death. Once a woman has discovered a lump in her breast, it can take months until she gets a proper consultation with a specialist. She needs to see her GP first, obviously, and this is where the delay starts.
Appointments are often available after a couple of weeks at most and since GPs have to deal with dozens of patients a day, missing symptoms is quite common. It often takes two to three appointments with the GP to be referred to a breast specialist.
This does not end the problem, as it can take up to two months from the time of the referral to actually seeing a specialist. By then, it can be too late for many women. This could be easily prevented by allowing people easier and quicker access to their GP and a health specialist.
- Pilot projects are already in place in some parts of the UK, including Manchester and the plan should roll out by 2014.
- The health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, applauded the plan and commented:
“We live in a 24/7 society and we need GPs to find new ways of working so they can offer appointments at times that suit hard-working people.
Cutting-edge GP practices here in Manchester are leading the way, and we want many more patients across the country to benefit”.
The Shadow Health Secretary, Andy Burnham, accused the Conservative Party of wanting to take the NHS backwards.
People from all over the country welcome the move simply because it allows them to fit an appointment into their busy schedules. We live in a world where working hours are longer and weekends are no longer free days any more for the majority of the population.
- It makes sense to be able to see a GP for any reason on a Sunday morning without having to run to the emergency department and clog it for a problem that cannot be ignored until Monday, but is still not an emergency.
- If the Government’s plan works out, we’ll finally be able to get an appointment with our GP without having to take a day off work to do so and doctors will be getting a little closer to being able to justify the whopping 6-figure salaries they are paid at the tax-payer’s expense.