'Why I must bow to a system I hate' - GP

A FAMILY doctor opposed to the NHS changes and a market system in health care is to become a GP fund-holder because he believes it is the only way to ensure that his patients are properly treated.

Alex Hall, a GP in west London for nearly 20 years, says there are now clear signs of a two-tier system in the NHS locally, with the patients of fund-holders getting preferential treatment from cash-hungry hospitals.

In a letter to Sandy Macara, the new chairman of the British Medical Association, who is taking a much harder line than his predecessors against the Government, he says: 'I find the concept of the market place for health care an abomination, but see it as the only way my partners and I will be able to get our patients adequately treated.'

Dr Macara's surprise election at the BMA conference this month illustrated doctors' desperation with their union's failure to tackle the Government over mounting problems. Dr Hall quit the BMA in the Eighties over its 'pathetic dealings' with Kenneth Clarke, then Secretary of State for Health. He says he will now rejoin, following Dr Macara's call last week for 'radical rethinking of plans (for the NHS) which were flawed from the outset'.

Some of Dr Hall's colleagues locally have already quit the NHS. Chris Manning, another GP, says there have been two suicides by local GPs, one of which was directly related to the changes.

Dr Manning has set up a support group, the Stress Factory, for doctors under pressure. 'Many are being forced to do something that they are ideologically opposed to. They are flying in the face of their own ideals and you can only do that for so long.'

In his letter Dr Hall outlines three cases of 'casualties' of the changes:

CASE 1: Florence, a frail 89-year- old, was admitted to hospital just before Christmas 1992 suffering from a urinary tract infection and repeated falls. Her recovery was slow and on 23 February she was assessed by an occupational therapist to see if she could be sent home to her equally frail husband, aged 88.

The therapist was forthright: Florence was incapable of cooking or preparing food for herself; she could not manage the stairs, nor walk safely; she was unable to move from her bed to a chair or a commode alone, nor could she carry out personal care. She was sent home anyway, on 9 March.

Within a week she was dead. 'I went around to the house and there she was dead on the floor with her husband in tears beside her,' Dr Hall said.

CASE 2: On 3 June last year, Stanley Cranwell was referred by his GP to the local hospital for tests, and bowel cancer was diagnosed on 7 July. He saw a surgeon on 24 July and was told that an operation was necessary to remove the tumour.

In early August, Mrs Cranwell called Dr Hall. She was worried that her husand had not been admitted. Dr Hall rang the hospital, only to be told that they were 'strapped for beds'. However, he was told he shouldn't worry, because Mr Cranwell had a slow- growing tumour that would not spread rapidly.

'They fobbed me off and implied that I was making a fuss. I was horrified, particularly at their claim that the tumour would not spread, when any doctor knows that he was sitting on a time- bomb,' Dr Hall said.

Mr Cranwell eventually had his operation on 18 August after Dr Hall intervened. The cancer has recurred and spread. Mr Cranwell is now waiting for a scan to see if his liver is affected.

CASE 3: Edith was in her eighties and had bouts of falling at home where she lived alone. She was admitted to hospital after one fall, and given a full occupational- therapy assessment which concluded that she was not fit enough to be sent home but should be placed in an old people's home as soon as possible.

Edith was discharged. Shortly afterwards she fell, was taken to hospital and treated before being sent home the same day. Dr Hall visited her the next day. 'I found her on the floor. She had been lying there all night. I sent her back to hospital. According to Mrs Bottomley's calculations, I presume this lady will count as three patients treated.'

(The names of patients have been changed.)

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice finalists Mark Wright and Bianca Miller
tvBut who should win The Apprentice?
News
The monkey made several attempts to revive his friend before he regained consciousness
video
Extras
indybest
News
Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
Sport
Brendan Rodgers looks on from the touchline
SPORT
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: National Account Manager / Key Account Sales

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Analyst - Bristol

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An IT Support Analyst is required to join the ...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick