Pay to see our GP? We already do

Counting the cost of GP visits, stand-up diets and stupid hair

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The Independent Online

I'll go out on a limb here and suggest that GPs' representatives were on distant foreign holidays recently when MPs were offered a £7,600 pay rise and everybody else in Britain went nuts about it. That could explain how the profession's trade magazine felt brave enough last week to publish survey results showing that 51 per cent of GPs support the idea of patients paying for appointments. That should really be "patients paying again for appointments" of course, since that's what our taxes are supposed to do, but one GP quoted by the magazine put it another way: "£10 for poor, £25 for others, £100 for professionals and politicians and £150 for solicitors and accountants."

The survey was looking for solutions to increasing workloads and GP burnout, which are valid problems. But GPs will tell you that much of their workload is caused by repeat offenders: the elderly who are worried and want to talk; adults with mental health problems... In other words: the lonely, the vulnerable and the poor.

It was doubly unfortunate for GP PR that the survey was released on the same day that Andy Burnham MP asked the Government to investigate if there is a causal link between cuts to social-care budgets and the concurrent spike in mortality rates among the elderly.

I've had GPs who are well worth 25 quid and my undying gratitude for the knowledge, diligence and care that they offer their patients. I'm sure that these doctors are in the majority, and I think that they would burn themselves out anyway working after hours rather than risk one patient slipping through the net for the sake of a tenner. But I've also had GPs who don't seem to listen or care. And why would I risk paying £25 just for someone to Google my symptoms and shrug when I can do that myself for free?

I don't defend feckless patients who miss appointments any more than I defend couldn't-care-less GPs, but this survey should remind us that patients already do pay for our doctors, and both parties would be better off acting like it.

Bored games?

I'm grateful to the makers of Monopoly for creating a new half-hour version that's supposed to be for children… and so is everyone who has ever played Monopoly with me and my fiancé. The problem with games is when you get two very stubborn people who refuse to call it a day long after everyone else has wandered off to have dinner. This Christmas, if the short version is out in time, we might all be able to get it over with in time for New Year.

It's not OK!

The latest big thing from the Department for Punishing Women is a new idea called the standing up diet, which is being promoted by WeightWatchers and apparently taken up by dieters everywhere.

According to the latest research, most of us are off our feet for up to 20 hours a day, and we need to stop it. Are you only running around for four hours daily? You're "storing up health problems from being sedentary too much", according to some professor that they've got signed up, and you only have yourself to blame. If you work in an office they say you've got to get up and walk around for five minutes in every 30. For heaven's sake! Or you could just chill out, live a balanced life and stop beating yourself up all the time.

Speaking of which, let's have a special New Baby Royal knighthood for the TV presenter Katy Hill, who has posed with her "baby weight" and called for a boycott of OK! magazine after it published a special souvenir edition promoting an "exclusive Duchess diet and shape-up plan" just a day after Poor Kate gave birth. My guess is that anyone who has just had a baby has better things to think about, like Having A Bloomin' Baby. OK! has since apologised, but I think its publisher should be made to stand on the naughty step for 20 hours every day.

Logan's spun

It's amazing how Gabby Logan's words have been spun as an attack on her fellow women in television, when she actually had a go at a huge media organisation for belittling women.

Asked by the Radio Times if Sky Sports uses women presenters as "window dressing" (the interviewer's words), Logan is said to have replied: "The girls are basically wearing a leotard while the bloke's in a suit and tie… There have never been any big breakthrough women on Sky. We all have to go to other places."

Did the powers-that-be ask themselves some searching questions about the way they team gorgeous young women presenters with boring older men, or about the number of women they promote to senior positions, or about the way that they treat women's sport? Or did they go: "Oooh, cat fight!" and ignore it? See headlines for the answer.

Curly-top peril

Can all the curly-haired people just have a quiet moment of shared empathy about our stupid hair and this stupid weather?

Last week humidity hovered around 80 per cent and while some of you swished around all shinily in the sun, some of us couldn't leave the house without looking like Sideshow Bob out of The Simpsons, and ending up Velcroed by the hair if we went too close to each other in the street. It's not much, in the scheme of things, but it's nice to know that we're not suffering alone.

Janet Street-Porter is away