It is with great pleasure that I announce our award today of the coveted DDM – Dissed in the Daily Mail. It has taken over three years to reach this moment, so let us savour it.
Readers will wonder how they managed to spin bad news eliminating the wait to see a GP but they are the masters, and there’s plenty to go at:
Let us start with the headline:
- No booking in advance: we never say this to practices. We say to patients, no need to book in advance as your GP can always see you today. But if the GP (or patient) decides a face to face is needed, it can be any day. It just happens that 80-90% of patients want the same day.
- One million patients and 150 practices – hoorah. We can point to 630,000 in 70 practices, I don’t know about the rest.
- New rules – a nice little jibe at “rules” with the connotation of restriction for patients, rather than the opportunity to speak to or see a doctor an order of magnitude faster than before.
- Cost-cutting drive: wrong, our vision is to transform access to medical care, it is not about cost-cutting. However, we are glad to say that it does reduce the cost of primary care, that’s what makes it sustainable for GPs as many tell us.
There’s bags more ill-informed opinion in the article, and selected quotes from prominent GPs voicing concerns. I don’t blame them as they may well have given a rounded view, only to have one or two thoughts put down to back Sophie Borland’s line.
Des Spence must have been referring to telephone consultations, as he talks about out of hours. David Haslam cites the importance of continuity of care with the family doctor, with which of course we absolutely agree. Not only do we emphasise the importance of allowing patients to choose a named GP, we help practices manage their systems to make this easier, and measure how they are doing statistically. Search on “continuity” on our website and explore. Dr Haslam may not have had the chance to examine the evidence.
Dr Maureen Baker is quoted, perhaps not having understood how choice of day can be given to patients. This is because only 10-20% want to come on a later day, and there is always space. She’s right that patients can always choose another surgery, but interestingly, they are increasingly choosing those we’ve helped because they love the way it works. Some have grown 20% – I will come back to this with the whole picture.
I can’t be bothered to counter every point which Borland gets wrong, as she couldn’t be bothered to talk to us or evidently to any of our GPs. She links us with Doctor First with which we share some common ground, but the differences are more important than the similarities.
Let’s look at the Daily Mail rules for journalists:
- All news is bad news. This is because bad news sells, and has made us what we are.
- The only good news is royal weddings and babies.
- For evidence of good news which counters bad news, see rule 1.
- Logical consistency within and between stories is discouraged, and in case of a potential breach of rule 1, absolutely prohibited.
Bad news, for example, is a picture of patients queuing outside a GP in Sunbury, where they may have to wait four weeks to see a GP. Patients of our practices speaking to a GP within half an hour, and always being offered an appointment the same day, cannot be good news because of rule 4.
Bad news is that the NHS is wasting billions of hard working taxpayers hard earned pounds. Greater efficiency by GPs in helping more patients in less time cannot be good news, but can be miserly cost-cutting because of rule 4.
You may fill in more examples, but I must leave it there. There is so much more to say, and I would love to add the voices of patients but will refer to our patient survey analysis. By the way, I’ve warned the Daily Mail off our website as it contains evidence.
In accepting this DDM I would like to thank all of the GPs and their staff who have transformed their work for the benefit of 630,000 patients, the outstanding team at GP Access and all our partners.
Founder & Chief Executive
GP Access Ltd
PS How strange to find in the Sunday Times from the day before “GPs deny advance bookings“. It’s a little more balanced, quoting Dr Peter Cairns who has written for this column, and they did interview several others. Looks like Sophie Borland simply copied the bad bits, put it through the DM spinner and took it out from behind the paywall. Ah, the life of a tabloid hack! You can write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.