Many of us will have used ShropDoc at night or at weekends when we’re ill, scared, and don’t know what to do. We phone ShropDoc because we trust the GPs who run it. Our Out of Hours GP service is a good one. It’s run by local GPs who know the area (and who quite often personally know the patient they’re talking to). The advice they give isn’t from someone with a few hours training who’s being told what to do by a computer programme. It’s high quality medical care – over the phone or at a local base or at home – and it’s based on a wealth of knowledge and skill.
ShropDoc is massively under threat.
The service is going to be put out to tender. That’s bad enough, because we want a service that we trust, not the service that’s the cheapest. It’s much, much worse than this though. The plan is to bundle the GP Out of Hours service together with the discredited NHS 111 phone line, and to put out a regional tender across the whole of the West Midlands.
This means that ShropDoc – a local service run by local GPs – will almost certainly be squeezed out. We’ll end up with a very cheap and very remote service. Many of us know that the ambulance service got worse when the control room was centralised in Brierley Hill, and local knowledge was lost. It makes no sense at all to repeat that mistake all over again with our GP Out of Hours service.
The NHS bosses at Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group and Telford and Wrekin Clinical Commissioning Group say that doing this is about ‘reducing duplication and increasing efficiency and effectiveness’. It may look like a good way of saving money – but replacing a trusted service with an unproven phone line will just lead to more people travelling to A&E. We’ll end up with worse care for patients – and more expense for the NHS. This is short sighted nonsense.
What can you do?
- Most importantly, act now. The consultation on this ends on 22nd
- Email your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org if you live in Shropshire and to Angie.Porter@Telfordccg.nhs.uk if you live in Telford and Wrekin.
- Complete the online survey here: http://tinyurl.com/111-outofhours-engage-survey
- HealthWatch has put together a petition on the threat to ShropDoc. You can download this by clicking here. If you can, print this out and ask your friends and neighbours to sign it. Perhaps you can take it to work, or to any club or society you belong to. Make sure your GP surgery has a copy at reception. Remember, though – it MUST be returned in time for the closing date of 22nd There’s also a HealthWatch poster.
Please make every effort to do these things. If we don’t get organised and stand up for our NHS, then slice by slice we’re going to lose it.