This week, I’d thought I would be a little controversial! And why not? I am after all a chiropractor who charges for the service and care I provide. So let’s touch on that very subject of costs and bring it all out in the open.
One of the most frustrating aspects of a new patient encounter is when I ask the question ‘have you seen your GP about your pain?’ I ask this question for one of two reasons;
- Has the patient actually informed their own doctor about their current back pain?
- What the doctors’ response was and action plan to solve the problem?
The response from a GP invariably will be management with painkillers and anti-inflammatory medication. For more persistent recurring problems, patients are often referred to a NHS Physiotherapist. I have no problem with either approach – pharmaceutical intervention is the medical doctors’ first approach. That is what they have been taught. Physiotherapists do a fantastic job – although the waiting list to see a NHS physiotherapist in this region is about 16 weeks!
What I do have a problem with is when a patient in pain asks their GP about seeing a chiropractor for their presenting complaint and, more often than not, the GP raises the issue of paying for private treatment with a chiropractor compared to the ‘free’ systems they have in the NHS. It is as if paying up front for care is something unethical.
Give the patient a choice. The benefit of paying for private care includes being assessed earlier with more availability of appointment times to get better, quicker.
Doctors perform a proficient role in the NHS. I dare say that most GP’s have long working hours – both contact time with patients, and non contact time doing essential referral paperwork and phone calls. Likewise, NHS physiotherapists. Neither GP nor physiotherapist is going about their duties for ‘free’. Each are paid a salary from the NHS budget each year. These budgets come directly from the governments’ taxation system that we all pay into. So yes, at the point of entry NHS system care is free – but patients have paid for the service indirectly via taxation.
There is no such thing as a ‘free lunch’.
Unless of course, the pharmaceutical representatives and sales force are in town! But that’s possible content for a future blog…