Thursday, 12 June 2008

Breasts & Polyclinics

I was in for a check up at my surgery (been having recurring nightmares that all is not well with my breasts) where I was reassured by my very wonderful doctor that all is well with my rack except maybe for the confounded bra. "Buy new bras. That's the problem" whereby I was nearly (just nearly) reduced to tears moaning that I had just bought new ones. Damn it, I had just taken the tag off this one just this morning. Damn it. Then the dreaded words were beginning to form on the doctor's lips, I could see them coming. I wanted to jump up and would have if I weren't too darn lazy and cover that mouth of his as he said "It might be time for a diet". Crash and so my day was ruined. So, anyone got any ideas for fashionable watermelon carriers? (that's what they look like now). Shit.

Breasts aside (ahem), it seems that the hot topic on people's mind are the polyclinics the government's on about. In layman's terms polyclinics are one huge medical mall where you not only get to see doctors but you can also have all your tests done all under one roof. As easy as pie. Or so I thought. It seems that doctors and patients (over one million of you according to a petition highlighted in today's news) are opposed to the idea of polyclinics erupting here there and everywhere for the simple main reason that it will detract from the doctor patient relationship. That personal treatment you receive at surgeries whereby you always deal with a doctor who has become not only familiar with your case but with you as opposed to polyclinics where you are reduced to a reference number.

I have experienced first hand what polyclinics are all about. When I was living in the Middle East, particularly the Gulf States, the idea of polyclinics had been going on for some time. Whenever I needed to see someone for myself or my family, I would have to give my reference number with each booking so that the file can be placed with the doctor available at the time. You did get to choose your doctor, however if that doctor wasn't there, then you had to make do with whoever was on duty. In my case, having the same doctor or otherwise was irrelevant to me. I rarely went in for major cases, and wasn't on any prescribed medication. And this is where I can understand when people complain that they would rather have their familiar doctor when they have to come to the clinic on a regular basis for checkups. Regular visitors need to have that security and knowledge that the doctor on their case is reliable, aware of all details and knows them inside out. All said however, it was never came cheap.

The government is claiming that polyclinics are not there to compete with local surgeries. Are they delusional? Of course they will and in the end what I (and lots of others like me) fear is the privatization of these clinics. The Government assures that in no way will this happen but common sense says it will become first an option at one stage and then a necessity at a later stage. The NHS can barely cover its costs as it is right now, polyclinics will suck it dry. There are loads of staff to consider and a load of finances to sustain and equip these clinics. Unless the government has something up its sleeve I see no way out and privatization is a sure option.

However, I believe that polyclinics are a good thing in big major cities. I really do. How many of us have their surgeries open till late? Can you contact your doctor on the weekend? How many times have you been told that there is no point going to a surgery as the hospital is better to get tests and such done? All some (and I stress some) doctors want is a nice surgery where they can see patients from so and so time and then go home early and live a normal life. Whoever heard of a doctor having a normal life anyway? Is there such a thing? That's what they signed up for so deal with it.

In this week's Guardian, Councillor Alan Hall, Lewisham Labour Group, said, "At last, with the advent of the 8am-8pm walk-in clinic, people will have an alternative. Access will be improved for all, including the hidden population of unregistered people. This is not unbridled market forces or unnecessary competition because health authorities have had to provide GP clinics directly where their was a gap in provision - decoded this means where the GPs refused to go and open a practice".

So, what happens now? We do what we've always done. We wait and in the mean time I might as well resign myself to dishing out for another new bra.

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