First Person: A slow goodbye to golden NHS days
NOW that 2013 is well and truly here, what can we expect from the NHS?
Well, one thing is for sure, there isn't going to be any new money in a hurry.
Cue crystal ball and zoom forward to 2015 and beyond.
What is happening in the world of NHS General Practice? Well, for a start, I cannot see many small practices around; having either closed under the financial and quality- improvement pressures, or amalgamated with larger practices.
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There are also fewer older GPs working, having seen the sense of early retirement against "early-death-through- exhaustion".
Some practices have been taken over by private companies, staffed by a steady flow of changing faces – young, inexperienced doctors, many of whom are set on bigger goals.
In more affluent areas, private GP surgeries are beginning to appear, where for a fee of £50 or so, you can see a GP for half-an-hour in state-of-the-art premises.
Those patients still dependent on the NHS are still in queues for just about everything; except that now, just like prescription charges, there is a "token fee" for all sorts of things including blood tests, x-ray and scans, contraception, maternity care and A&E attendances. Hospitals still provide care, but families supply the food and bed-linen.
You think I am joking? Well, come and look at the finance books and tell me how it is not going to happen. The golden days of the NHS are fast becoming a memory.