One negative aspect of living in London is the apparent lack of doctors.
Even though I’m a member of a general practice that is largely frequented by students (who are all away on holiday), I can’t get an appointment to see my GP for 3 weeks. And this is perhaps their quietest time of the year.
Given that I generally only go and see a doctor if there is something wrong with me that is irritating or needs attention, I don’t want to have to wait 3 weeks to even speak to someone about it. Do people just go to the GP for a chat when there’s nothing wrong with them? (actually yes: I briefly did some work experience with a GP and it was all old ladies with their corns)
I have previously been advised by my doctor’s receptionist to go and wait in Accident & Emergency if I want attention in a reasonable time frame - I should only have to wait 4 hours for non-emergency care due to government targets, she told me.
A General Practitioner friend of mine expresses her love of GP-ing by noting that GPs provide continuity of care… becoming familiar with individual patients and building up a level of trust and respect. However, when I moved house within London - just 800m down the road - I was told by my previous GP that I was now a few metres out of their catchment (even though I’m still in the same local authority etc) and no longer eligible for treatment at their practice. I don’t find this very continuous care.
NHS Direct (0845 46 47) are pretty good for talking you through your options but they’ll laugh with you about your ability to get an actual doctor’s appointment or treatment.
My problem is the level of hassle that you have to go through in order to get any sort of non-emergency treatment on the NHS. If I was just a bit more timid than I am, I might quickly start ignoring potentially-serious illnesses just so I didn’t have the additional stress of dealing with the NHS in London. And that’s clearly not good for the city’s health.