Wednesday, 7 March 2007

Shropshire Star

This story appears in today's edition of the Shropshire Star newspaper:

A Shropshire family doctor today revealed that he might stand as a candidate in council elections to highlight what he claims is the Government’s “systematic destruction” of the NHS.

And Dr Adam Pringle has not ruled out making a bid to become a Member of Parliament to fight changes he claims are harming the health service.

He says he has been forced to speak out because the traditional method of recruiting doctors to posts, based on their skills and experience, is being replaced with selection based on what he says are politically correct answers to an on-line questionnaire.

“The visible failings of this system mean that high quality skilled and experienced doctors are not even being invited for interview and will be forced to emigrate,” said Dr Pringle, who helped to set up the Lawley Medical Practice in Telford nearly eight years ago.

He claimed none of the doctors currently in training in Telford have been invited for interviews, and that at least one panel of Midlands’ consultants were refusing to interview because they knew the system was rejecting quality applicants, and possibly forcing them to appoint poor ones.

Dr Pringle said: “I appreciate that local elections have no bearing on the NHS, but I can see no other way to put the views of the medical profession before the country as a whole, other than to stand for office at the local elections in May, and then if that fails, to consider standing for Parliament in due course.”


Asked if he was going to try for a council seat, he replied: “The way things stand at the moment, it is for me quite likely.”

There was no action doctors could take other than “making a noise and hoping someone listens.”

Dr Pringle said the new recruitment system simply compounds the Government decision to shorten training so that a future consultant will have 10,000 hours of clinical experience instead of 40,000.

“To put that in perspective, I, as a fairly typical GP, have about 10,000 hours of hospital clinical experience.” he said.

“Thus they will provide a ‘consultant delivered service’ as promised, but not consultants as we know them today.”

Dr Pringle says the Government claims to have spent vast amounts on the NHS but much of it is fictional and billions have been wasted on a failed IT system.

He is critical too of the “foolish decision” to sign up to the European Working Time Directive and then apply it rigidly.

And he warned: “This massive reduction in the medical working hours available to the NHS is the primary reason why one of Shropshire’s hospitals will inevitably be closed, but closed in a slow expensive inefficient salami-slicing way, leaving us with one inadequate hospital instead of two.”

He added that maintaining the children’s wards at the Royal Shrewsbury and Princess Royal hospitals used to require eight middle grade doctors but now required 16, at a time when every other UK hospital also needed to double its numbers.

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