Last week it was announced that aanyone wanting to book an appointment would first have to contact NHS Direct by dialing 111, which is being rolled-out as the new non-emergency medical number.
Call centre staff would then make their booking remotely, meaning patients would normally no longer speak to a GP receptionist directly.
The Telegraph reported on the 9th February that plans appear to have the backing of Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary.
Doctors behind the proposal believe it will make booking appointments easier, but some patients’ groups fear that many will find the experience of going through a call centre “hugely frustrating”.
The Health Service Ombudsman reported that people went to their local hospital or GP hoping to be cared for, but instead were denied adequate food and drink, left in filthy conditions, given inappropriate treatment and in some cases left to die without loved ones by their sides. At the heart of the complaints was the lack of dignity and respect where people where not treated as individuals.
Whilst the busy middleclass person in employment who visits there GP infrequently may find a central booking services meets their needs, it is often the receptionists that provides the individual touch to older people who visit their GP very regularly. The GP receptionist gets to know their patients and helps to promote the relationship between the GP and the patients loosing this increases the risk of developing an NHS without dignity and respect for the older members of our community.