This week’s guest writer is David Burling, chair Grantham Constituency Labour Party
One thing I love about being involved in local politics is I have the opportunity to talk to a wide range of people from all sorts of backgrounds.
Recently, I have been having a great deal of discussions with a significant number of people, trying to find out what matters to them.
I have noticed in a number of these discussions a similar topic comes up.
That topic is health.
Obviously, we have the normal worries about the hospital and the genuine concerns over what could happen to the hospital in the long term.
However, I have noted an increased number of people worried about the service they are receiving from their GP.
One conversation I had was with a woman who had gone to her GP about a continuing heart problem.
Although there were genuine medical issues at hand, the nature of the conversation held with her GP was around the cost of the potential diagnostic procedures and treatment, rather than the clinical need.
This even led her to take a look at the possibility of how much extra it would cost to go private to ensure she received the treatment.
It must be noted that I have a great deal of respect for the medical profession, but feel uneasy when I hear examples of money and cost entering into what should be a clinical conversation.
This, however, may be the future as GPs are put in charge of the commissioning process and pressure could be applied to the patient to choose the least costly option. I have real worries that as the new structure takes hold, more and more conversations are going to be held with the patient in this manner, and services that were once considered universal in the health service will become rationed, or in the worst case scenario, chargeable to the patient
In my opinion, our community’s health should not come down to cost.
A person’s clinical need should be the top priority in our GPs and our health authorities’ minds. If it is not, then people will not be getting the best from their NHS.