Hands Off Our GPs – NHS: A serious threat


I received an email from 38degrees and have pasted the entire message below.

Having paid into the NHS via taxes for over forty years. I have had little or no need to call on the NHS throughout my early life. So, as you can imagine, I am disgusted to find, just when I am reaching an age where I may need to the services of a GP a little more frequently, the government has an eye to limit my access and make me pay, AGAIN !!.

It is hard enough to get to see a doctor at the best of times. The last thing we need is a limit on the number of visits you are allowed.

Take a read and see if you don’t feel the same way. If you do, add your name to the petition.

This could be very serious. The Conservatives are floating plans to cap the number of times we are allowed to visit our GP. [1] If we run out of visits – because we’ve got a sickly child or long-term health condition, for example – we could be forced to pay to go elsewhere.

At the moment it’s just a proposal. [2] But if the Conservatives don’t see a big public backlash, it could soon be a grim reality. So let’s raise an outcry as quickly as possible and push them to drop the idea immediately.

Please sign the urgent petition now: tell health minister Jeremy Hunt to rule out limiting our access to NHS GPs:
https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/dont-cap-GP-visits

Jeremy Hunt will be watching the public’s reaction carefully. He is an ambitious politician with an eye on his own popularity. If he sees a huge petition growing fast, he’ll realise this is damaging his ratings. So if enough of us sign, we could play a key role in getting this idea dropped.

Being able to visit the family doctor when we need it is a bedrock of a decent health system. GPs are often our first port of call when we’re ill. [3] Limiting access to GPs could mean a dangerous illness is left undetected until it’s too late – unless of course you’ve got private medical insurance…

But this isn’t just about GPs. This is about a principle at the heart of our battle to protect the NHS. Since the NHS was created, everyone in Britain has been able to rely on visiting a doctor as often as we need to. Limiting access would undermine the NHS at its very foundations. So let’s send the Conservatives a strong message: drop this terrible idea.

https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/dont-cap-GP-visits

Thanks for being involved,

David, Rebecca, Travis, Blanche and the 38 Degrees Team

PS: Here’s what the chair of the Royal College of GPs said about these proposals: “This was obviously written by someone who has never been unwell, or has never met people who work in the health service.” Let’s not let the idea get any further – please sign the petition now: https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/dont-cap-GP-visits

NOTES
[1] Daily Mail: Fury as Tories look to limit the number of times you can see your GP each year:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2331068/Fury-Tories-look-limit-number-times-GP-year.html
Independent: Cap on number of GP visits being considered by Tories:
http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/cap-on-number-of-gp-visits-being-considered-by-tories-8632396.html
[2] The proposal is contained in a “Conservative Policy Forum” paper on NHS policy, you can see the whole thing here:
http://www.conservativepolicyforum.com/policy/local-health
[3] See for example this campaign on the importance of going to see your GP early if you could have symptoms of bowel cancer:
http://www.macmillan.org.uk/Cancerinformation/Cancertypes/Colonandrectum/Symptomsdiagnosis/Symptoms.aspx

My Prostate and Me – Part 1


Here I am in my 60th year. I have made it through most of my adult life without suffering anything worse than the common cold and the occasional bout of flu. A couple of years back I was diagnosed with hypertension and have been taking tablets ever since to keep things under control. All has been well until earlier this year when I was asked to provide a blood sample as part of the regular monitoring. This time my GP said he noted that I hadn’t been checked for prostate cancer so he added it to the list of things for the lab to check out. Part of their preventive maintenance plan I guess. He told me to call in a couple of weeks to find out the results. and me being me, I forgot all about it and did nothing.

Until ……

Some time later I decided to go and see the doctor about a couple of moles on my shoulder. During the exam I mentioned the blood test and asked about the prostate element. After he pulled up my notes and following some chin rubbing he said “Your PSA is up a bit, perhaps we should book you in for an examination”.

Don’t you think that someone might have said something when my blood test came in ?

After all “No news is good news ….. Right ?”

Did they check the other stuff pertaining to my blood pressure ?

So I was left to go and make an appointment. While I am at the reception desk he calls me back in to the examination room. “Since you are here we might as well do it now” he says. A few minutes later he’s got a rubber glove on and I’m laid down on the couch, facing the wall with my knees tucked up under my chin.

After what can only be described as a “strange and unusual experience” he informs me that his exam was inconclusive, that he really isn’t an expert and feels it would be better if I was examined by someone with more experience. Personally I would rather that he had chosen someone else to practice on.

A week or two later I am up at The QA (Queen Alexandra hospital, Portsmouth) and I’m laid down on a couch, facing a different wall, with my knees tucked up under my chin. This time it is the lovely bubbly Vanessa with the rubber glove. This time I’m told that because I am tall, my prostate is quite high up and perhaps this is why the GP couldn’t feel my prostate. There then ensues a discussion about the length of my GPs fingers, me saying I hadn’t noticed from my position at the time if he had pianists hands and comparisons with Elton Johns chubby pudds. Meanwhile back on the couch… Vanessa thinks that we, I, should have another blood test to compare with my earlier one and that, based on that comparison, a decision would be made as to the need for a biopsy.

An appointment date is set and I am left to arrange a visit to the vampires at my GPs practice. I manage to fit in a  fortnights French holiday in between times, get the blood drawn and await the results.

On Thursday, July 26th, I have a short but bubbly telephone call with Vanessa who informs me that my PSA is once again elevated, that it is probably nothing, but why don’t we, meaning I, have a biopsy just to be sure. You can guess how enthusiastic I am about that. I haven’t been sitting idle, wasting my time. I’ve been on the interweb and found out how these biopsies are performed.

An appointment is made for Tuesday, July 31st. All too soon I am sitting in the Urology Dept waiting room and my name is called. They hadn’t warned me, but en-route to the torture chamber, they ask me to provide a urine sample. If I had known I would have made sure that I had plenty to drink. Needless to say I could not perform. Not a drop. “Stage Fright” says Vanessa.

Once again I find myself with my trollies down round my ankles, laid down on a couch, facing yet another wall, with my knees tucked up under my chin and my bum hanging over the edge. Now that’s an image to scare the kiddies don’t you think.

So the procedure gets underway, cold lubricating gel and the ultrasound wand is put where the sun doesn’t shine, anaesthetic is applied and the numerous biopsy samples are taken with the device clacking away with the sound of an industrial stapler. Job done, my bum is wiped and a man-sized pantyliner applied and I am packed off home, advised not to do anything strenuous. As if.

Thursday, August 30th, and I am once again at the QA. The Urology Dept. waiting room isn’t any more attractive. My name is called and introductions made. This time I am seeing Dr Dominic Hodgson. Where is the lovely Vanessa ?  After the pleasantries I am sitting waiting for Dr Hodgson to give me the “All Clear”.

So it’s all a bit surreal when he tells me that the biopsy has shown that I do in fact have Prostate Cancer.