Controversy has sparked today at the announcement of an ‘uber style app’ enabling people to search and select a GP appointment, for a fee. Thus far it is piloting in North London, with National coverage expected by 2018.
I jumped onto the website Doctaly, added my postcode and the system returned…. precisely nothing. Not surprising as I don’t live in North London. But my mum does, so here’s the results for her area: a choice of 11 GPs/ locations within 12 miles, the top two showing appointment options for today:
Looking good! So why the controversy?
Critics of private healthcare are concerned that this is the thin end of the wedge and that once we start paying for healthcare the NHS will effectively be over in the context of ‘free to all at the point of delivery’. I hope this is not the case, and wholly support the continuation of the NHS. But it is stretched beyond capacity, and with unrelenting growth in chronic ill health the pressure to do something different is surely only going to amplify?
There are also concerns about a two tier system, why should someone with money be able to ‘queue jump’? But why not? Surely this frees the NHS to focus on those who truly need free GP services whilst others can make their own choices about how to spend money. Personally I would invest in health care above just about any other luxury item, such as a car or a holiday. And most often someone who has money is working and would appreciate a faster response time and flexibility.
A further benefit of private services is the opportunity to engage in a way that is not possible within the NHS. Appropriate tests can be ordered and, given your own investment, there may be more willingness to participate in your own recovery. This service should not just be a quick fix to more pills for busy execs! Hopefully a new breed of ‘Lifestyle Medicine’ doctors could chart a course whereby people are taught HOW to resolve expensive disease conditions such as type 2 diabetes and many others.
In reality private GP services are already available, what’s new is the active marketing of such services to increase demand. In my area, there are at least four private GP clinics – in High Wycombe, Beaconsfield, Great Missenden and Marlow.
Maybe the only way to save the NHS is to move differently and find new and innovative healthcare solutions that enable it to thrive. That would be in all of our interests.
www.doctaly.com (couldn’t find the app…)