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Outsourcing outrage

1 April 2011

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Although I appreciate that the notion has allegedly been overturned, I still find myself reeling from an article last week in my “favourite” of all of the nationals regarding the demise of the receptionist, only to be replaced by call centres. While I am totally in favour of moving forward and trying new approaches, this one is absolutely laughable and it just goes to show what little those calling the shots know about healthcare in this country.

Dr Laurence Buckman, Chairman of the BMA’s GPs’ Committee, made a cracking comment suggesting that “every five minutes, someone, somewhere is coming up with a great idea. This isn’t going to be one of them.” I would almost guarantee that the initiator of this suggestion was young, middle-class and just out of university. And while I appreciate that statement may be unjust, I cannot see anyone who is worldly-wise coming up with such a thought.

I looked up the reference to the article on Google to remind myself of the wording – as I had only scan-read the article when it was presented to me by one of our receptionists obviously concerned for her job! There were 577 comments in response to the article. In fact the paper is no longer accepting comments and, as far as I can see, most people are in support of their GP receptionist and are dreading the consequence of speaking to a call centre in India.

I am not sure that an automated machine or a person sitting half a world away is the best approach for managing our ageing population; it seems the only people that will benefit from such proposals will be the telephone service providers – but hey, what’s new? Thank goodness we have a royal wedding to look forward to!

A time to dance?
At the time of writing I am also looking forward to our practice Christmas party, which is guaranteed to be a night of raucous merriment where everyone lets their hair down – except for me of course. I am still sulking from last year’s party, when I tripped over while strutting my stuff on the dance floor. I have pledged to drive this year and then I cannot be accused of having one too many, but only of being senile and decrepit or, even worse, a dreadful dancer.

With times being a little hard this year, we asked some of our staff if they would prefer a gift instead of the usual shindig. One of the comments was: “I get to see you fall over, the deputy bladdered and the younger docs doing their old-school group dancing – I wouldn’t miss it for the world.” Hmm, perhaps I am beginning to see the advantage of a call centre in India …

With regard to festivities, may I offer belated congratulations to the winners of this year’s MiP Awards, presented at the MiP Birmingham Event in October. This celebrated not only a fabulous achievement by all of the winners but a great effort by all who entered the competition. I was involved in judging one of the areas, so I know how difficult it was to choose from some great entries.

Finally, I wanted to take this opportunity of wishing Stuart Gidden, Management in Practice‘s Editor, all the best. Stuart has to undergo a stay in hospital very soon followed by a period of recovery at home. His efforts behind the scenes are what has made Management in Practice the success that it has become, and I wish him well and look forward to seeing him back in the driving seat sometime in the new year.