BOSTON GP Dr Simon Lowe, based at Westside Surgery, talks to The Standard about the upcoming NHS reforms and how they could affect you.
Apart from cauliflower the thing I dislike most in life is change. There are lots of things in my life that are very constant and I like it that way. I know that I will come home to my family every night, I will go out with my friends once a week and if I forget my wedding anniversary I will be in trouble. It’s reliable, comfy and I don’t need to worry about it. Why would I want to change things?
As an ordinary man the things that concern me are so often the things that concern other people. Like me, most people dislike change, especially if they have not chosen the change themselves. In the new financial climate of credit crunch Britain, many things are having to change and that includes the health service. An awful lot of people work in the NHS (it’s Britain’s biggest employer) and even more of us rely on it. For this reason there are a lot of voices expressing concern about the changes that are being proposed for our health service. However, perhaps we should remember the saying ‘a change is as good as a rest’. Seldom do we find that change is anywhere near as bad as we thought and I believe that this will be the case with the new NHS changes.
So what exactly do the new changes mean? Well the main change is that your local GPs are going to be responsible for looking after the money that the Government gives the area to spend on health. To ensure that we get value for money, safeguard our essential services and, very importantly, avoid spending more money than we have, we are going to have to make the same sort of decisions that we all have to make when running our family finances. How many of us go to the supermarket and buy ‘own brands’ rather than spend much more on the famous names? Most of us I suspect, because we all know that they are much better value for money and taste just as good. Your GP is going to have to do just the same with the medicines they prescribe. How many of us find it more convenient to shop on the internet and have our purchases delivered to the house rather than go to the trouble and expense of going to the shops? Well, in the future your GP will be able to buy health services that will allow your care to be delivered closer to your home whilst saving money.
On the other hand there are times when we choose to travel a little further to get to a shop that offers a special service that we cannot get locally. In the future the same may happen with healthcare, although as local GPs we absolutely promise that we will only ask you to travel further if you need a more specialist service that is not available locally.
If we all pull together and accept a few changes our healthcare may look a little different but, as we will then be able to maintain the same quality, it will probably feel like there has been no change at all.
The real benefit of having local GPs in charge of the local health service is that we will be able to buy the health services that are best suited to Boston’s needs. Because many more of the decisions about health services will be made locally, there will be so much more scope for you, our patients, to affect these decisions. We encourage you to get in touch with us via firstname.lastname@example.org if you have a good idea of how your local health services can be improved.