You SHALL open 7 days: New challenge to ’24/7′ dogma

There is an astonishing problem with the ‘need’ to make GP appointments ‘7 days a week’: most people are not interested. According to a much larger survey reported in the Independent. Which belies the real question: what is this all about, then? The true driving agenda is far more sinister.

Ignore for a moment one of the herd of  elephants in the room (which to be accurate as a metaphor would need to be on a par with an exhibition hall for size, resemblance to a circus ring not entirely coincidental). Which is that the NHS in all but elective care is in fact already ‘7 days a week’. Ignoring that, this latest evidence points strongly to the view that people do not even want weekend appointments to see their GP. Unless they are fit, young and working. Ah, the ideal demographic to base an entire health service provision on. Also the group least likely to support the idea of a publicly owned, publicly accountable NHS. Coincidence?

Now question the core of this: ‘7-day working’. What, precisely, is meant by that ill-defined term, which is meant to define how illness is treated? How could it be achieved with existing workforce numbers in all necessary disciplines (and another of the herd walks by – it couldn’t)? How, even if the required numbers could be recruited,  could they all be afforded at current rates of remuneration (Dumbo alert – they couldn’t)?

So is this government set on driving GPs to work on Sundays, which most people do not want anyway, and across the NHS, with far too few people, while recruiting far more, and paying them all the going rate to sit in their empty surgeries and under-visited clinics? Does that sound like the agenda of a government set on clawing back public provision wherever it can simply on the grounds that its ideology favours it? Or is it more likely that this is the opening move in a bid to change the NHS into a private-insurance model, using staff working under worsening conditions while slyly upping the ‘personal contribution’ people have to make?

Doesn’t take a herd of elephants to see beyond  the obscuring misinformation on that one. Which makes its prevalence and potency all the more disappointing. The NHS needs saving, more than ever. That is the ’24/7′ cause people need to see.

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