Public get better emergency care from vets than GPs, claims Welsh surgeon
A Welsh surgeon has claimed that the public get better emergency care for their pets than they get from family doctors, because there is no financial incentive to provide it.
Joseph Meirion Thomas, who was a senior surgeon at Royal Marsden Hospital and now works for BUPA, said that without market forces in the NHS “GPs have a guaranteed salary irrespective of performance or patient satisfaction”.
“I come from a Welsh mining community and have shown a lifetime commitment to the NHS. I want it preserved and not eroded,” he said, but added that “GPs must give the public better value for money.”
“This week, we are looking after my daughter’s dog,” he told the Telegraph. “On her instruction sheet were the details of the vet and, in an emergency, the out-of-hours contact number. GPs offer no such out-of-hours service and the best one can hope for is to ring 111 and speak to a non-medically qualified operator.
“If that results in a home visit, it will probably be done by a paramedic. Do pets get better emergency care than patients in the UK? Certainly, vets have a financial incentive to serve their customers well.”
He added that during the pandemic GPs seem to have been “missing in action entirely, having established ‘fortress’ surgeries”.
“It is difficult not to conclude that, at present, general practice is run for the benefit of doctors and not for the benefit of patients who are paying for the service,” he said.
“Even before the pandemic, there were signs of changes for the worse. Patients no longer had a named GP and they could be seen by any doctor in the practice, often a transient locum. Getting an appointment was difficult.
“Gone was any obligation to provide continuity of care, the service which patients most value. Moving to another practice was/is well-nigh impossible.
“Why has it all gone wrong?”
Earlier this year the Welsh Government said it recognised the “extraordinary contribution” of GPs during the Covid-19 pandemic. It was announced that GPs in Wales would receive a one-off bonus payment of £735 in recognition.
The Welsh Government said the bonus will go to 222,000 people in Wales, including 90,000 NHS Wales staff, over 100,000 social care workers and 26,000 primary care staff such as GPs.
Then health minister Vaughan Gething said NHS and social care staff “have shown a remarkable amount of commitment and courage” throughout the pandemic, and will have suffered an impact on their “physical and mental health wellbeing” as a result.
“This payment expresses our gratitude to our NHS and social care workforce for their extraordinary contribution in keeping Wales safe,” he said.
However, in July NHS unions said they had been left “disappointed and upset” after the Welsh Government announced only a 3% pay rise for NHS staff.
Welsh health minister Eluned Morgan said the wage increase “recognises the dedication and commitment” of staff, but the nursing union said that it was a “long way off” the 12.5% they had been campaigning for.
The offer came after the same 3% deal was put forward by the Westminster Government for NHS nurses and colleagues in England on Wednesday evening. Most NHS nurses in Scotland were awarded a 4% pay rise earlier this year.
When making the announcement for Wales, Eluned Morgan said: “Once again, I want to thank our Welsh NHS staff for their extraordinary efforts over the course of this pandemic.
“Many staff have worked extremely long hours under enormous pressure. This pay rise recognises the dedication and commitment of hardworking NHS staff and the enormous contribution they have made.
“It is also a recognition of how valued they are by Welsh communities.”
But Helen Whyley, Director, Royal College of Nursing Wales, said: “The 3% award from the Welsh Government is bitterly disappointing.
“This does not reflect the 12.5% ask of the Royal College of Nursing, which would bring nurses in line with other professions and redress the fact that their wages have reduced over the last 10 years.”