Sunday, June 20, 2010

General Practitioners - do they give patient satisfaction ?

I have an issue at the moment with my local GP's. You see, I feel that they are not patient focused enough in that they work very cosy hours and do not take into account that most people do not work in the town where they live and cannot get to their surgery during 'shop hours'.
My local surgery opens 8.30 in the morning and closes at 6 p.m. They do not open on Saturday's even though the pharmacy next door does.
Unless you are one of the blue rinse, twin set and pearl brigade or live on social security, or are a drug addict or alcoholic it is very difficult to get to see your doctor during the day, if like me, you work 26 miles away and can at an hours notice be asked to go to London, Yorkshire or Scotland for a week at a time.
I have a need for regular medication to combat erratic blood pressure. I am only prescribed one months supply at a time and if I leave it till I have one weeks supply left before ordering my repeat I have to wait three days for the prescription to be issued by the surgery. If I am sent away at work for a week, you get the picture . . yep I run out of medication and my health becomes at risk.
Recently, because of a run of work which sent me over the country, I went to a well known pharmacy out of town because I had run out of medication and had my blood pressure checked. The pharmacist refused to let me leave the premises until they had sorted out my medication for the weekend with my doctors. She was brilliant, my doctor's was not. It was like pulling teeth with no anaesthetic it was that painful and only after having to drop everything and rush to the surgery from 40 miles away did I finally get the prescription despite the pharmacist trying to get the prescription for me and the doctors refusing them
Of course had they opened on a Saturday morning there would have been no problem.
The Pharmacist where I had my blood pressure checked said their local surgery in the town where she lived had surveyed their patients on the question of sociable hours for people working away from their town and as a result they opened at 7.30 a.m. and closed at 8p.m. two days a week. Bingo . . a progressive doctors practice . . hooray for them.
I had a great doctor where I lived before, they knew my case, were very flexible and opened on Saturday mornings but because I moved seven miles away I was forced, yes forced to move doctors. I was quite happy to stay with my then current doctor but rules is rules you know.
I sincerely hope that this coalition government now in power will look closely at the National Health system, and in particular general practitioners and make them more patient focused. These cosy working hours should be stopped and more regard for patients work patterns be taken into consideration. I was even told that my own doctor, who only works part time, had to catch a bus at 4 p.m. so could I make sure I got there on time !
It's ridiculous in this day and age that doctors, who are always happy to get their very generous salaries, do not work some unsociable hours like their hospital colleagues do. David Cameron get cracking on this a.s.a.p. please . . . it's our National Health Service not the General Practitioners who are paid by us to give a service . . so please get them to treat us with a bit more respect!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Bhopal - An American tragedy


Lest we forget, on December 2 - 3 1984 a subsidiary of an American company Union Carbide corporation caused 20,000 deaths (to date) and severely affected the health of a further 170,000 in India through a catalogue of cost cutting in order to make more profit.
Factors leading to the gas leak in the chemical plant which manufactured pesticides were:
  • The use of hazardous chemicals (MIC) instead of less dangerous ones
  • Storing these chemicals in large tanks instead of over 200 steel drums.
  • Possible corroding material in pipelines
  • Poor maintenance after the plant ceased production in the early 1980s
  • Failure of several safety systems (due to poor maintenance and regulations).
  • Safety systems being switched off to save money—including the MIC tank refrigeration system which alone would have prevented the disaster.
This month seven ex-employees, including the former chairman of UCIL, were convicted in Bhopal of causing death by negligence and sentenced to two years imprisonment and a fine of about $2,000 each, the maximum punishment allowed by law. They were also granted bail. Ironically, on December 7th 1984, the former Chairman and CEO of Union Carbide Warren Anderson, was arrested, granted bail on $2,100 dollars and later absconded by being flown out of India on an American Government plane. He still remains an absconder to this day. Also noted is that there was no representative from Union Carbide (now owned by Dow Chemicals) at the recent trial, in other words, we don't give a toss mate.
Now, in respect of the recent BP oil leak disaster in America, I have to say I am gutted when I think about the environmental impact on the Florida coastline, to wildlife and the livelihoods of people who live there.
Barack Obama's rhetoric on the issue is currently very forthright and strong, demanding compensation, demanding CEO's to attend a White House hearing, in fact demanding heads to roll.
When I listen to this attack on BP and then reflect on Bhopal I cannot help think that the President of the United States Of America is being a bit hypocritical. It was an American corporation after all which caused the deaths of 20,000 people and it was an American government plane which aided Warren Anderson's escape but where was the American presence at the recent trial which took 25 years to hold. Of course, they were nowhere to be found. Shame on you.
Unfortunately, when the Bhopal plant was abandoned the company still left behind hundreds of tons of hazardous chemicals which are leeching into the water system used by local people and is affecting them to this day.
When it comes to clean ups, who is interested in Bhopal Mr President?