A report by the Civitas thinktank accuses GPs of playing the system to attract maximum benefits at the expense of treating patients properly in a number of areas including depression and osteoarthritis.
The graphic from the Daily Mail, below, is revealing. Notice that bonuses are paid out for ‘monitoring.’ ‘tests,’ ‘measuring,’ ‘reviewing’ and ‘recording’. Part of the agenda of shepherding and keeping tabs on the public or genuine concern?
Now I understand why I have had my blood pressure taken so often in recent years, which has been normal since I stopped drinking alcohol over a decade ago, when previously it used to be high.
You would hope that compassion was offered as standard; basic humanity overriding the temptation to shoo away a difficult patient quickly in order to take more blood pressure readings.
The Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) has become a ‘game’ to secure maximum points, according to Civitas, and in this case, points mean prizes: lots of cash. Since this system of bonuses was introduced, general practitioners have seen their salary rise to over £100,000.
Civitas argues that “there are many reasons why high quality care for patients, particularly the elderly with complex medical conditions, may not fit well with what is mandated by the framework. This opens it up to abuse.”
In one survey, 75.9 per cent of nurses said they felt the QOF was undermining the patient-focus of the NHS. I know I do not seek a doctor unless I need to and a big part of this is due to my lack of confidence that I will receive a compassionate never mind competent examination.
We have clearly seen that the ‘target’ culture does not benefit society. Since it was introduced into police forces, easy targets are picked off and the difficult and more serious ones often put on the back burner. The same seems to be the case here. While healthy people are being poked and prodded, there are fewer resources to help the sick. Similarly, in today’s police forces, brownie points are awarded for performance and so crimes are invented that law-abiding citizens can be arrested, DNA taken and the ‘crime’ solved while some real criminals, who would otherwise have been apprehended with the freed-up resources, still roam free.
Civitas finishes by saying, ‘Do we really want GPs to be a set of what the cultural critic Raymond Tallis has termed “sessional functionaries robotically following guidelines” or do we want professionals able to work for their patients?’
We want the latter of course, not just with doctors, but teachers, police officers, judges, politicians and journalists, but we seem to settle for the robots because stepping outside the PC box and into normality can lead to repercussions in this crazy world.