Friday, January 12, 2007

A private choice - no thanks

My toes hurt. Not badly, but all the time.

It is not my practice to blog about personal stuff, but after several visits to the doctors, blood tests, etc, I have now been referred to a specialist, and the first question the GP asked me was whether I had private health insurance.

This is an interesting question because private health cover is part of my salary package, but I have opted out of it, even though it would have cost me nothing. It would also have covered my children – who I have also opted out.

This started an interesting conversation with my GP, who argued that going private frees up an NHS place for a publicly funded patient. Ah yes, I argued, but specialists work for both the NHS and the private sector, so if there was no private sector they would have to spend all their time in the public sector - in which case every patient would be seen based upon their clinical priority, not their bank balance.

The other trouble is that specialists are on contract to the NHS for only so many hours, leaving them free to spend three quarters of their time in private practice. Wich can treble or quadruple their salary. This has a further distorting aspect on the health service, as talented specialists are less likely to go into fields with negligible private practice, like geriatrics.

Anyway, I think it is wrong to pay to jump the queue. Just because other people are doing it doesn‘t make it right.

1 comment:

Louisefeminista said...

I had to see a specialist years ago to remove some of my bone in my foot (very unpleasant experience).
Anyway, it was on the NHS and I used to wait hours to see the specialist (I am not exaggerating)and I remember this bloke sitting next to me telling me the reason why we were waiting was that the specialist had a private clinic that he was prioritising. He didn't seem to mind making up NHS patients wait. Though to be fair, when he did arrive he was good (he removed the correct bit of bone), wore classy bespoke suits while his second in command wore off-the-pegs Burtons (you can tell the status of someone in their suit)and his claim to fame was being the ex-husband of Vanessa Feltz!