A cheerier story on the front page today, for those of you who have had to take time off work in order to see your GP. About 1,150 surgeries in England, catering for 5.5 million patients, are going to open at evenings and weekends, with more medical advice given over the phone, email and Skype. The reforms are overdue and common-sense, offering the public more convenient healthcare. They have the potential to ease pressure on A&E, with more elderly patients receiving community care. There are already demands for the changes to be introduced across the whole of the UK.
As our Whitehall Editor Oliver Wright, a former health correspondent, writes: “We can get ill seven days a week, so shouldn’t we also be able to get treated seven days a week?”
But the reforms are underfunded, at the moment, so may falter from the outset. GPs are certainly paid enough to work more anti-social hours than is currently the case. But since they already work long hours, if they have to provide care at evenings and weekends that may mean you’ll find it more difficult to get an appointment during the daytime.
For a couple of years in the mid-Noughties I was a newspaper diarist – and a fairly hopeless one, at least when I started. I once failed to identify Kate Middleton when she pushed in front of me at Richard Branson’s buffet. Fortunately i’s new diarist is a class act.
I mentioned recently that Jessica Barrett is joining us, following Luke Blackall’s transfer to London Live. We are using her arrival as an opportunity to revamp the page.
Farewell, then, Caught & Social.Jess’s new People column will take a broad view on the arts, entertainment, film, radio, music, TV… a window not only into the dafter, more ephemeral side of public life but also occasionally touching on wider talking points. If there’s an individual you would like to read more about – or much less! – then please let Jess know on firstname.lastname@example.org