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I attended three meetings today (as well as other campaigning issues).

One was a meeting at Sheldon Heath Arts College. One of the issues that came up was school dinners. It was clear that the Labour representative had no practical proposals for improving school dinners.

The next meeting was a review with parties of the plans for the election from the Returning Officer. Although things are a lot better this year, there is still a tendency to give political parties the "Mushroom treatment". We only found out today that postal votes were posted from Manchester on Tuesday and Wednesday this week - when they had assured me they would be posted on monday.

There is a clear lack of understanding of a need to provide timely information as to what is happening.

The evening hustings was about the NHS run by NHS Concern. This had some interesting elements to it. The UKIP candidate thrown out of Monday's Gay Community Hustings was allowed to argue her case at this.

I argued the case as to the damage done by rigid targets to the NHS. I think the consequences of central control of the NHS are being recognised when people cannot book appointments in advance to see GPs.

Last Night was the founding meeting for Birmingham Citizens. It was well organised and is a good sign mainly from the inner areas of Birmingham.


Stephen Booth said…

Whilst I obviously cannot speak for all surgeries, I believe based on my experiences of several different surgeries that patients not being able to book appointments with their GP is due to too many patients for too few GP surgery hours. I am registered with the Warwick Road surgery here in Greet. According to the panel on the wall this surgery has 3 doctors, two practice nurses and a number of part time specialists (dieticians, smoking cessation counselors &c). I have never known them to have more than one doctor and one nurse in at any time, I have even known times when there has been only the nurse. From what I have seen it is rare for surgery to start anything like on time.

Since moving here five and a half years ago the only way that I have ever been able to see a doctor has been to show up at the surgery and wait for a no-show. I would try to switch to another practice but I'm told by others in the area that this is typical for this area.

Some years ago I lived in Lea Bank (now Park Central). There I was registered with a much larger practice in a medical center (if I recall correctly it was a satelitte site for one of the hospitals). There one did not make an appointment, you just showed up. Within minutes one would be seen by a triage nurse and then prioritised depending on urgency and promptly seen by a doctor. As the doctors were employees of the health centre there were typically several in and they worked a full shift rather than 45 minutes in the morning and maybe an hour in the evening. In addition to the doctors they also had a range of onsite specialists (dentists, physios, dieticians, counsellors &c) and medical students to provide support.

Given the wholesale destruction of the area, I'm not sure if the practice is still there, I hope it is.

From my own experiences it seems that large centrally controlled practices provide a better service than small independant ones.

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