Letter: Doctors' dilemma

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The Independent Culture
Sir: The dilemma presented in your article "Doctors told to come clean on rationing" (5 July) is not confined to high-profile emotive cancer cases. It is a reality enacted every day in GP surgeries across the country.

A survey in this week's GP newspaper of almost 1,000 doctors showed that 79 per cent are making rationing decisions on a daily basis. Decisions about which investigations to instigate, which drugs to prescribe and whether to refer, and if so where. Some 70 per cent of GPs admitted they were uncomfortable making these decisions and 55 per cent that patients lost trust in their GP if they knew he or she was having to ration care.

One GP said: "Sometimes consultations get very uncomfortable and highly political." Another said: "Patient trust in GPs has plummeted in the past 10 years. People no longer believe we are truly their advocates."

Doctors should not be left carrying the can for rationing. It is time to accept that the NHS does not have a bottomless wallet and for all of us - doctors, politicians and patients - to have an open and honest debate about what we want the NHS to fund.

CAROL LEWIS

Editor, "GP"

London W6

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