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Secret Diary Oct 2023: Back to the Future?

As October arrived it heralded the start of the Flu season and the jabs started in force. Despite the NHS mess over the Covid roll-out, which many of us did not sign up to, we achieved over 1500 shots on a Sunday along with over 100 for Pneumonia, so a very successful day.

I think that a lot of us will reconsider our Flu delivery programme next year, as it looks highly likely that many surgeries will be left with excess stock as pharmacies managed to start earlier than practices. 

I fully accept pharmacies should give the vaccine, but if we continue to be left with excess stock it is financially not viable unless purchasing from Inform, as we do our other vaccines.

Covid – out of sight, out of mind?

Whilst the media and NHS have been quiet on the current increase in Covid infections, I am sure that many of you, like us, have seen a spike and felt the effects of staff testing positive as well as patients presenting with Covid symptoms.

We have even been consulting patients in the car park with Covid-like symptoms, and GPs have reported that some patients have admitted they have Covid once in the consulting room.

Just by looking at our waiting room I already see more patients actively wearing masks, but I was stunned when the partners asked our views on trying to reintroduce masks for staff walking around, clinicians consulting, and encouraging patients to also wear masks.

There was a consensus that we should start immediately, and walking around that afternoon seemed so strange, a bit like “Back to the Future”.

Talking to our staff about this move, many were happy and could not understand the fuss. I accept we may have to live with this for some time, but it is too early and scary to let caution go to the wind.

The worry is that with little or no media coverage, Covid will get out of control; I feel that the powers that be think if they say “nowt” then it will go away.

But don’t those powers have a responsibility to be open about the situation, which could then lead to better control of the virus?

Financial pressures adding up… to bankruptcy?

You certainly do not need me to go on about finance, and if you’re not feeling the pinch now then you probably will moving forward. More is being expected of Primary Care without extra resources, and we can only go on so long.

When attending meetings, the topic of finance is never far away, and a view that some surgeries may even go bankrupt is increasingly a reality and not just scaremongering.

Things are so bad that when asking for new IT to cover extra staff, we are told that none is available.

The increase in the GMS figure by 3.9%, along with the 2.1% last April is welcome, but what is often missed is that some practices have a very high weighted list and so the income is greatly reduced and will not cover the 6% increase it is supposed to cover.

In our case, we are being paid for three thousand fewer patients than we have on our books and so financially we are going to be hit once again. This system of weighted listing is unfair and penalises larger practices, and it should be looked at to make things more equitable.

The road ahead is going to be very rocky and there are no solutions unless there is an open discussion and a cross-party plan for the future of the NHS. It cannot and should not be a political football — it is peoples’ lives we are talking about.

But asking politicians to be open and honest may just be a step too far.


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