1.       Medical Society Dinner 2000 - Graeme Wilcox
2.       Medical Society AGM - 2000
3.       Music from the Towers - Peter Batty
4.       Bodenham Arboretum
5.       Fee First, Patient Second - Barrie Davies

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MEDICAL SOCIETY DINNER 2000

The medical society dinner was held this year at the Spring Grove House, Bewdley, on September 22d. There was a very good attendance, there being 112 members and guests present at the dinner.

.After a substantial meal, the President, Dr Tim Wadsworth briefly introduced the guest speaker Dr John Ball, a former Kidderminster G.P. and senior member of the B.M.A.

Dr Ball opened his remarks by describing his first few years in practice in Kiddermiinster when he was still a humble GP, when the Hospital services were pretty basic, and much of acute care took place in the community. He noted that when he first came to Kidderminster , he and his wife Pam ran the hospital acute services - himself as R.M.O., Pam as R.S.O. He then continued with reminiscences of his years in the Corridors of Power in London , ending up as chairman of the Medical Practices Committee, during which time he met many people of influence in the medical and political worlds.

Music was provided during the meal by a violinist, and afterwards added to by a small group, which encouraged some of the diners to dance until after midnight.

Graeme Wilcox

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MEDICAL SOCIETY
AGM - 2000

 

The Kidderminster Medical Society AGM was held on 2nd November 2000. As usual , this was in the Post Graduate Medical Centre - but for how much longer? The whole question of the future of postgraduate education, and the PGMC in particular, occupied the bulk of the meeting. The questionnaire sent out with the last copy of this newsletter was completed by 65 doctors -the great majority wished to see the continuance of a PGMC somewhere on the Kidderminster site, open to all disciplines, and supported if need be by the appeal funds.

A subcommittee had met to discuss the results, and presented a discussion document to the AGM. This was accepted apart from the proposal to consider an alternative centre "off site", and was to be presented by Paul Newrick to Ruth Harrison. A new multi disciplinary centre in the ADAC, with PCG / PCT on board seemed the best option. Existing funds are to be protected in an educational trust.

Health Watch was discussed    and John Ball named as instigator. Tim Wadsworth had been acting as KMS representative, but this was not felt appropriate so he will continue as a private GP member.

It was felt important to include in the Medical Society all doctors now working at the Kidderminster site. Geoff Summers will invite the new consultants to join, and hopefully restore the previous levels of GP / consultant rapport, fuelled by contacts at all levels.

A successful financial and social Year were reported, and new members and officers elected. The meeting ended with a very enjoyable meal.

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Social Evening 24th June 00

'Music from the Towers'

Of course it started with a little local difficulty on arrival at Stone House Cottage Garden; buoyed up by a super rugby win by England against South Africa a few minutes before, I was asked if  I was a performer by a car park attendant but after pausing I suggested it would he best if I was part of the audience, because the alternative would mean very few remaining to listen.

The Medical Society had been allocated the 'outer circle' where about 30 of us gathered with various chairs and 'make-do' tables plus, of course, our picnics. The programme notes made it quite clear that noise was not to be tolerated from the outer circle advising us "without wishing to inhibit the exuberance within the outer circle could 'fortissimo' be decrescendo or diminish to 'piano' during the playing of music" - they knew we were coming!

The President and his wife were most attentive in offering us champagne and then white or red wine and there was an opportunity to wander round the splendid garden amongst the towers - purported to be the Tuscan San Gimignano of the Midlands . 

The Staffordshire Building Society Band played a selection of well known melodies from a variety of composers. The one that most jolted the wine glass-holding hand was undoubtedly Strauss' Explosions Polka when the fireworks cemented our belief that the 'outer circle' was safer than the select 'inner circle'! Kate Williams' solo on the euphonium was my particular favourite.

The most sartorially elegant guest of the evening was undoubtedly a certain consultant haematologist who arrived partway through the evening having been performing for the Kidderminster Choral Society. These consultants will do anything to show us GPs what dress code we should be adopting!

The weather had been showery all day, but we had a totally dry evening which raised £1,500 for HAND (Hand Helping Africa to end Disease) and the Macmillan nurses. A thoroughly enjoyable evening!

 

Peter Batty

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BODENHAM
ARBORETUM

 

On Wednesday 24th May a party of 27 members visited the Bodenham Arboretum and Earth Centre near Wolverley.

After a scenic mile long drive to the entrance, the party was  given an introductory talk by the owner David Binnian. This talk was not scheduled, but was organised to accommodate the rain and latecomers. Mr. Binnian then took us on a shortened walk through the Arboretum, pointing out some of the major features, including a large central lake, a superb laburnum tunne in full bloom (very comparable with the one at Bodnant Gardens), and the azalea garden at present a Riot of colour.

Finally, we returned to the Earth Visitor Centre and Rotunda Restaurant, built into the hillside, where we enjoyed a very substantial meal with wine.

This was a fascinating Society visit, but sadly not enough time was available to do more than whet our appetites for a return visit, which I shall certainly do on a sunny day.

 

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FEE FIRST, PATIENT SECOND

As a  full time GP I was born into, and learned my trade under the protective umbrella of the national health service. That is not to say that I respected that inefficient and administratively overburdened health care system, but rather it taught me that, in line with the Hippocratic Oath, patientís needs came before financial gain. A very far cry from what we saw as the worm of fiscal priorities and fee orientated work ethic which had eaten into the legal profession!

Now, having moved into a totally different type of health care provision I am able to stand back and watch my former GP colleagues from a fly-on-the-wall perspective, and I donít like what I see. Iím not talking about multiple murderers or inefficient and incompetent surgeons, but rather the offensive money first, patient second attitude. Let me expand on my thoughts with an example.

Iím sure I donít have to remind you that travel insurance companies are not charitable extensions of the national health service. They are profit making organisations and go to great lengths to make sure that the rules are adhered to Ė in other words, the small print of the policy. The whole concept of travel insurance is to handle medical emergencies abroad, not to provide a quick and easy way of bypassing waiting lists at home. Break a leg or have a heart attack when you are abroad and the insurers are your friends at a time of need; but to expect them to pay foreign medical fees for long standing medical conditions is another matter. This is why, when an injury or illness abroad is notified to them, the small print of the policy gives them the right to approach the GP at home to enquire about the patientís medical history.

There is another very important reason for the enquiry. Very often, when someone is taken ill in a foreign country, the doctors there want to know more about the patient and any medication being prescribed, just in case it has a bearing on the illness which they are trying to deal with. For instance, a patient may be taking steroid tablets for a completely unrelated condition but which may have significant bearing on the current illness; asthmatics may be on a whole array of tablets and medicines, any of which could react badly to the treatment they want to offer.

I was asked to go to Toronto to repatriate a seventy year old gentleman who was spending Christmas with his son and, while there, had suffered a heart attack. On his travel insurance form he had honestly declared that some six years previously he had suffered angina, was investigated and subsequently had triple heart by pass surgery. Naturally he had paid an extra premium to cover any heart conditions while he was away and was therefore fully covered for the costs of medical treatment in Canada . At this point the repatriation company contacted the family doctor in Ireland and asked for details of the gentlemanís previous medical history and for a list of drugs with which he had been treated. There followed eight days of frustrating telephone calls and pleading before the vital information was forthcoming.

For the first couple of days the messages left with the doctorís receptionists and the numerous faxes went unanswered. Eventually, a very curt fax reply came back stating that he did not deal with insurance companies Ė despite having already been told that the information required was for his patientís wellbeing. More fruitless requests went by unanswered before another fax was received stating that the doctor was prepared to divulge the information, but only on receipt of a fee of £50 in cash! By this time the repatriation company was being pressurised by the foreign doctors and the patientís relatives for the information and agreed to pay the fee. By day seven the family doctor had his cash, but even then it took another 24 hours before he took the trouble to fax the vital information through. The sum total of the fax was : 1992 Angina, 1993 triple CABG (coronary artery bypass graft), Aspirin, Propranolol, Frusemide (the patients name has been changed and the italics are my explanation). A total of twelve words was all this money grabbing, unhelpful and thoughtless doctor could manage at £4.17p a word. Needless to say, when the repatriation exercise was completed the patient went home armed with all my criticisms of his family doctor, and my report contained many of the thoughts that  Iíve shared with you.

That was just one example of the many Ďfee before factí general practitioners that repatriation companies are having to deal with. This is not to say that all GPs are of the same ilk but those that are, are a disgrace to the profession. They would do well to remember that it is their patientís well being which is at risk because of their pound in the pocket attitude.

Barrie Davies

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