Two tiers of access to important diagnostic testing: the future through a glass darkly?

There are too many tests done in Medicine, but these are done partly to exclude a sinister condition when this is a possibility, partly owing to the doctors anxiety not to miss something, and partly due to patient expectation. In the free “Everything for everyone for ever” medical care that pretends to exist in the UK, it is no wonder that anxious patients, aware of the possibilities (as opposed to probabilities) expect and demand access to investigations.

Early diagnosis often means the difference between life and death. This is why all these tests exist.

The waiting time(s) recommended in Wales and other UK regions is a maximum of 6 weeks. So if you can get a test in a day or two, this may well improve your chances.

The European Scanning Centre has just opened new equipment in Cardiff, and has sent a letter to all GPs in Wales. The letter from the European Scanning Centre is here, and courtesy of a colleague.

If you go for an early scan, and are found to need treatment it will be interesting to hear the interpretation of the Health Trusts as to where you should be placed on the waiting list for operation/treatment. According to the “rules” there should be no advantage in going privately. If you get one test / part of a process for a symptom privately, you should follow up and pay for the remainder. However, what if you have not got the policy/means to continue? Does the state put you to the back of the waiting list as if you waited the normal time, and only then operate? The patients you might be put ahead of may or may not have a diagnosis needing surgery, but you definitely do.

So this is just one aspect of a two tier health service, and with Wales having the longest waits and poorest outcomes, it is no wonder that a private company has seized the opportunity offered by an imploding Health Service.

What happens when there are private A&Es, and private GPs? Are we prepared, looking through a glass darkly, for the two tier future?

Image result for health glass darkly cartoon

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This entry was posted in A Personal View, Rationing, Stories in the Media on by .

About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

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