Letter: GP role in the new model NHS

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The Independent Online
Sir: The brave new world of Virginia Bottomley's NHS is in stark contrast to the real world of NHS hospital care. As a general practitioner I welcome the advances in surgery provided by day surgery at King's Hospital in Camberwell ('Progress measured in sending patients home', 23 June) and enjoy providing care at home for patients discharged early.

Our practice has brought psychiatry out of hospital, destigmatising those with mental illness. We provide surgery, rheumatology, counselling and physiotherapy in our surgery. The patients universally approve.

But secondry care is another matter. I spend valuable time harrassing specialists and outpatient clinics to see or admit my patients. I hear tales of three-hour waits in outpatient clinics, lost notes, months of waiting for surgery with nasty illnesses. Fundholders have the same problems.

Casualty admission to King's Hospital is an ordeal for the elderly who spend 24 to 48 hours on a trolley in conditions I have heard described as similar to Calcutta railway station. British Indian patients return to India for surgery.

The NHS continues to slide and is in danger of being likened to the cheap jewellery market. The empress has no clothes and we all know it.

Yours sincerely,

DAVID STEPHENS

Elm Lodge Surgery

London, SE24

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