Why are doctors STILL using Covid as an excuse not to see patients?

SARAH VINE: Being a doctor is supposed to be about helping sick people get better, not guilt-tripping them for taking up your time… So why are doctors STILL using Covid as an excuse not to see patients?

A couple of weeks ago, I came down with a nasty chest infection. At first I just ignored it. But it got worse: my lungs were on fire.

The bug then took up residence in my ears, rendering me deaf and in considerable discomfort.

I’ll be fine, I said to myself. ‘Don’t be ridiculous,’ insisted my daughter, home from university. ‘Quite apart from the fact you sound . . . well, gross, you’re insufferable when you’re ill. Go to the doctor.’

Ah, foolish youth. Go to the doctor? If only it were that simple.

There was a time when seeing the doctor was a straightforward affair. You rang, you made an appointment, you went. These days, you might as well be seeking an audience with the Pope.

My first mistake was to call on a Monday morning. Whichever bacterium was rampaging in my bronchioles had clearly not got the memo about Monday mornings.

Emailing the NHS involves navigating through a hideously clunky website called ‘SystmOnline’. As portals go, it might as well have been the gateway to Hell for all the ease of access it afforded

After 47 attempts to get past the ‘engaged’ tone (my phone logged them), I finally got through to a recorded message about how busy they were, and I was placed in a queue. I actually felt grateful.

I waited a further 40 minutes before the receptionist finally answered, only to be told — you guessed it — that no appointments were available.

On Tuesday, the infection was much worse. I tried again. This time it took 45 minutes to get through. Again, no appointments were available. The receptionist suggested emailing.

Ah, emailing. That involved going through a hideously clunky NHS website called ‘SystmOnline’. As portals go, it might as well have been the gateway to Hell for all the ease of access it afforded: although not even the Devil himself could have devised such a frustrating piece of technology.

I’m quite computer-literate. It’s beyond me how anyone is expected to cope who isn’t proficient with tech, who can’t remember their password or who simply doesn’t have online access.

Eventually, I managed to navigate my way through it, and logged my request. The next morning my phone rang. ‘Are you the person who emailed?’ I was. ‘The doctor will call you.’

To my mind, the answer is simple: it suits doctors  not to have to see patients. Thanks to Covid — that great catch-all excuse for incompetence in public service — they’ve realised it’s easier to keep us at arm’s length

I then spent the rest of the day watching my phone like a hawk, only to miss the call when I popped to the loo. When I rang back, the line was engaged. Obviously.

Now I know I’m not the only person who’s been ill these past few weeks, but I’m also not the only person struggling to see their GP.

My daughter, for example, needed a non-urgent appointment for an ongoing issue.

The earliest they could fit her in? Christmas Eve.

A friend came down with a kidney infection. It took her three days of passing blood before her GP would agree to see her.

The truth is, GPs seem to have unilaterally decided they don’t want to see patients any more.

Being a doctor is supposed to be about helping sick people get better, not making them sit for ages on hold, or guilt-tripping them for taking up your time

Their excuse? Covid, of course. But why? Everywhere else has opened up. If the rest of us are expected to go back to work as normal, why can’t they?

To my mind, the answer is simple: it suits them not to have to see patients. Thanks to Covid — that great catch-all excuse for incompetence in public service — they’ve realised it’s easier to keep us at arm’s length, and hide behind ‘precautionary measures’.

But that’s not what being a doctor is about, is it? It’s supposed to be about helping sick people get better, not making them sit for ages on hold; or guilt-tripping them for taking up your time; or making them wait in agony for three days before you prescribe them the antibiotics they need. Or at least . . . it used to be.

Mossy gets party started 

The Nineties are back — and with them the decade’s greatest icon, supermodel Kate Moss.

In recent years, we’ve become used to sober Kate looking smart at grand events such as the Met Ball. But on Monday night, she seemed to have reverted to party-girl mode, holding tightly to the lectern as she slurred her words during a halting speech dedicated to a prize winner at a New York awards ceremony. Good to have you back, Mossy!

British model Kate Moss attends the WSJ Magazine 2022 Innovator Awards. we’ve become used to sober Kate looking smart at grand events such as the Met Ball. But on Monday night, she seemed to have reverted to party-girl mode

A very taxing problem

Ministers these days constantly talk about protecting the ‘most vulnerable’ — and no doubt that will be their justification when they raise our taxes next week. But why is it only the poorest who deserve help? What about the middle classes, who get up every day and work hard? Why are they always last in line for a handout — but first in line for tax rises? And why is all this happening under a Conservative Government? 

My son’s phone broke. I pay £7.50 a month to insure it. I call O2; after 20 minutes on hold, a man answers. He tells me I have to log my claim on the app. I log into it, but making the claim there proves impossible, too.

After more failed attempts, and mounting fury, I take the damn thing to lovely Raj around the corner and pay him £120 to fix the screen.

And that’s the modern, sodding world in a nutshell.

Giving the World Cup to Qatar was a mistake, says Sepp Blatter.

No Sepp, giving football to you for all those years by making you president of its governing body, Fifa, was the mistake. Qatar is just an unhappy consequence.

I have absolutely no idea who Olivia Attwood is, but she seems to have played a blinder with her ‘shock’ exit from I’m A Celeb. Barely a trial to her name — and she still walks away with £125,000. Nice work if you can get it.

I have absolutely no idea who Olivia Attwood is, but she seems to have played a blinder with her ‘shock’ exit from I’m A Celeb

Extinction Rebellion founder Roger Hallam predicts the consequences of climate change with weird relish. ‘[Feral gangs] come into your house, they take your girlfriend, they take your mother, they put her on to the table and they gang rape her, in front of you. Then, after that, they take a hot stick, they poke out your eyes and they blind you.’ No wonder his followers are whipping themselves into a frenzy if they believe that sort of nonsense. 

Albert’s happy family

While most royal families seem to be falling over themselves to demonstrate their woke credentials these days, there’s something refreshingly old-school about Prince Albert of Monaco.

This week, a photograph emerged of him, taken in New York, with his arm around American actress Jazmin Grimaldi, 30, his daughter with former waitress Tamara Rotolo.

Jazmin, in turn, has her arm round her 19-year-old half-brother — Alexandre Grimaldi-Coste, Prince Albert’s son by another ex, Nicole Coste, a Togolese former Air France hostess.

Of course, 64-year-old Albert took his own sweet time to acknowledge these two as his children, but there’s something rather heartwarming about the fact that they have managed to put all those rows over DNA tests behind them.

There’s something refreshingly old-school about Prince Albert of Monaco. This week, a photograph emerged of him, taken in New York, with his arm around American actress Jazmin Grimaldi, 30, his daughter with former waitress Tamara Rotolo

Meghan Markle thinks that calling a woman ‘difficult’ is ‘code for the B-word’ — and claims it provokes a ‘visceral reaction’. Really? It doesn’t bother me. When I get called a ‘b****’ or even ‘difficult’, I just take it as a sign that I’m annoying the right people.

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