Category Archives: healthcare
One of the features of the Radio 4 Today programme, to which I have an entirely masochistic addiction, is the shroud-waving doctor.
The British Medical Association is a highly professional middle class trade union, whose spokesmen are extremely articulate – and after all, NHS staff are all angels, aren’t they? So a programme seldom goes by without someone from the BMA or its equivalent telling us that this or that branch of medicine is facing utter collapse unless large amounts of cash are pumped in, right now.
One of those areas facing devastation from a thousand cuts is the local GP’s practise. I have wondered here before whether, given those hospitals under special measures seem more often to be in affluent suburbs and country towns than in impoverished inner city boroughs, any shortage of resources might have more to do with local councils’ willingness to allow house-building on any available scrap of land without providing the necessary infrastructure to cope with a larger population.
Now we learn that the number of GPs retiring or otherwise leaving in their late 50s has more than doubled over the past decade, leaving surgeries understaffed. Even the ones who make it into their 60s are going early.
Part of this is the Law of Unintended Consequences. Changes to pensions legislation has meant that, for highly paid professionals such as doctors, there is no financial benefit to working on to the normal retirement age.
I use a large suburban health centre which has recently moved to new, rather impressive premises. No complaints there; but the turnover of doctors I see does seem remarkably high. A number are mothers who are working part-time. Their prerogative, but it costs as much to train a female doctor who will work a couple of days a week as a male one who works full time.
And I notice that several seem to have retired of late. They are either a testament to their own medical skills, having managed to remain remarkably well preserved right up to the normal retirement age. Or they are going early.