GP-patient bond stretched to breaking point | Letters

Dr Carl Brandt GP says proper healthcare requires a strong and personal relationship based on trust, Richard Gilyead says that in Saffron Walden it is difficult to get any appointment with a GP at all, and Laura Marshall-Andrews GP describes a patient in tears

Your article (Health of patients put at risk as fewer get to see their own GP, 9 June) sheds light on the desperate need for a trusted relationship between a patient and healthcare professional.

It is alarming to think there has been a sharp decline in the GP-patient bond over the last six years, even though ministers had pledged to bring back this key driver of efficient treatment. This is particularly true for the treatment of chronic diseases, which require patients to make lifestyle changes.

From previous medical studies, it has been proven that the most important driver in long-term lifestyle changes is a strong and personal relationship based on trust. Be that with a GP, health professional or even friend or family member.

Let’s hope that the message is clear on what the healthcare system ought to do in the future to tackle pressing health concerns.
Dr Carl Brandt GP
Research Unit for General Practice, University of Southern Denmark

• The idea that you could get to see your “own GP” is laughable in our area. Patients in Saffron Walden have to participate in a “telephone lottery” at 8 o’clock each morning to try to get any appointment with a GP at all. The reason became apparent when the NHS responded to a recent planning application for yet another large housing development in the town. Our two surgeries already have a weighted list size of over 21,500 and a capacity of just 14,000.
Richard Gilyead
Saffron Walden, Essex

• A few days ago I saw a patient with very severe MS. She is completely bed bound and cannot move any part of her body. She requires 24-hour care which has always been provided by a live-in carer. At the last Atos medical assessment the assessor felt she only needed 12 hours of care in the day and not at night. He was aware that recently she had developed an overwhelming infection in the night and been rushed to hospital by her carer who had heard her moaning from the other room.

I was seeing her to write an appeal letter against this decision which could clearly be life-threatening for her. I read my letter out to her which detailed her severe disability and requirements and as I looked up I realised she was crying. “I am so sorry, I am so sorry,” she kept saying. “I feel such a burden to everyone. I am so sorry.” As doctors we see the cruel human consequence of legislation.

The questions I have for Theresa May are these: are there quotas for removal of people from disability benefits? Is there a hostile environment to the disabled?

I think most doctors would agree that it feels like there is.
Laura Marshall-Andrews GP
Brighton

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