Have you noticed that everyone talks about MANAGING demand, but no-one wants to hear about managing DEMAND?
Same words, but the meanings are polar opposites. MANAGING demand has a long, high profile history. Recall the court of King Canute telling him he could hold back the tide by his command. A bit like all those notices, hints, tips and interactive websites that claim to turn away patient demand. The GP Forward View falls into the same trap, “assist patients in managing a greater proportion of their minor illnesses themselves”
Gosh, what a novel thought! We wish it were possible too. The only thing against it is all the evidence. Everyone has been trying this for years, and now it’s even better online (more patients visit NHS Choices every day than see their GP). It just doesn’t work and still, as the King’s Fund recently reminded us, demand creeps up at 1.4% per year. It isn’t a tidal wave, it’s roughly what we’d expect from patient demographics.
Patient demand for primary care is more like global warming. There’s not a lot we can do about it in the short term. (People, don’t go anywhere, especially shopping! Switch everything off and stay cold next winter! Hmm, perhaps not.) We keep working on the new technologies which may help, but in the mean time, it’s predictable and we must adapt.
Managing DEMAND takes this view: demand is unavoidable but predictable, and it’s therefore not scary. In accepting it, we can do far far better by learning how to deal with it in much less time.
A note to HEE: kindly don’t poach GPs from other countries who have trained them at huge expense and have a greater need than us. It’s grossly unethical at many levels. We can afford to train the GPs we need, and we can easily innovate faster than 1.4% pa to manage DEMAND.