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It’s a minor point…

A national minor ailments service? No thanks, says Dr Livingstone, who for once finds himself agreeing with politicians

It's very rare that I agree with politicians. Usually, their opinion – especially about primary care – at best sends my temporomandibular joints into spasm and, at worst, has me head-butting the nearest wall.


But when they're reported to be frightened of commissioning a national minor ailments service, I have some sympathy. Because if I was controlling the NHS purse strings, I would be, too.


I know the argument is that such a service is supposed to take pressure off – and trivia away from – us poor old GPs. So, yes, ta, much appreciated and all that. But doesn't it rather miss the point?


Specifically, that the vast majority of minor ailments require no input from any medical professional whatsoever. Instead of pandering to every cough and sniffle, shouldn't we be educating patients and parents that most of these illnesses need nothing more than fluids, paracetamol and a dose of common sense?

I know the argument is that such a service is supposed to take pressure off – and trivia away from – us poor old GPs


I think so. But that's not what would happen if the government commissioned a national minor ailments service. It would suddenly be even more lucrative than it is already for you to drag those only-very-slightly ill punters off the street, flog them some placebos, claim the relevant fee (I'm guessing there would be one) and neatly training Mr/Mrs/Master/Miss viral to expect more of the same in future.


Minor illness service, maybe. Major waste of money, definitely.


Dr Livingstone is a real-life GP lost somewhere in the NHS jungle. A reluctant part of a GP commissioning consortia, he offers his wry look at all things NHS. More from Dr Livingstone here:

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