Britain’s Secular Youth

A common lament among old religious folk is that youngsters don’t subscribe to the faith with the same level of enthusiasm as previous generations. For instance:

Up to one in five patients are regularly missing GP appointments in Scotland, with younger people the worst offenders, new research has found.

A study of more than 500,000 people in the country, published in the journal The Lancet Public Health, shows young males are most likely to not attend.

Younger, male patients aged 16 to 30 were found to be the worst offenders.

Here’s what a local priest has to say:

Stockport GP Ranjit Gill believes there has been a shift in how the health service is seen by a younger “I want it now” generation.

“The NHS is now, for our younger population, seen as a consumer service, a bit like John Lewis and so perhaps valued differently to the way our older population see the NHS.

“I can’t think of the last time one of my older patients ever missed an appointment.”

Time for some fire and brimstone:

GP practices across the country are already implementing some successful schemes to reduce missed appointments, from text messaging reminders to better patient education and awareness posters detailing the unintended consequences of a patient not attending.

And appeals to the faithful to fill the coffers once again:

But ultimately, we need NHS England’s GP Forward View – promising £2.4bn extra a year for general practice and 5,000 more GPs – to be delivered in full and as a matter of urgency.

“And we need equivalent promises made and delivered in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, so that we can deliver the care our patients need, whatever their circumstances, and wherever in the country they live.

The answer to this ought to be simple: charge people a nominal fee when they book a doctor’s appointment. However, we might have better luck asking the Catholic Church to promote abortions.

(Note also that the article begins with the problem of patients missing appointments in Scotland, and ends with English GPs demanding the immediate delivery of an additional £2.4bn per year.)


11 thoughts on “Britain’s Secular Youth

  1. With the way the church is generally going it would not surprise me if they did start promoting abortions.

    Most other countries’ healthcare systems (including those generally rated to have the best outcomes) have some form of nominal fee for GP access and yet it is heretical for us in the UK. It wouldn’t be too hard to make arrangements to overcome any challenges this causes for poorer patients (e.g. refund if you genuinely needed to see a GP, reduced fee for lower income patients etc.). My mum used to run a GP practice (not as a doctor but as an admin/accountant type role) and the two biggest issues they faced were 1. People turning up demanding appointments when they had no ailments/ just wanted someone to complain to. 2. People picking up their prescriptions and then never taking the drugs (which was always revealed when they brought back many unopened boxes to the surgery to be disposed of). A nominal fee goes a long way to fix both issues.

  2. Aeons ago I knew a doctor, who told me that even back in the mists of time (where we were then) the problem for GPs was old age goats. Sure, the young had issues (like the one who threatened the doctor that if he didn’t get the tranquillisers he wanted immediately he would go home and gulp down a lot of paracetamol and the medical profession would be sorry then. The weary doctor kindly advised the young man to make sure he swallowed the whole bottle just to make sure.)

    This doctor said a lot of his ageing patients just wanted a chat or reassurance, so old Jim who was advised to get plenty of exercise because he had some leg condition that would benefit from regular exercise would then book an appointment three weeks later just to tell the doctor he had been out walking every day and was that okay?

    Mind you, our local doctor sent my wife, who had a knee condition to see a hip replacement specialist. The hip man was not entirely unsurprised by this lack of medical knowledge by our GP. After all he knew of a man with a heart problem who was sent by his doctor to see a brain injury specialist. I suppose it’s all a bit of a lottery, this NHS malarkey.

    So as far as I can see half the NHS problems are age-related and the other third are doctors not knowing which bit of the body works for what reason.

  3. Well, since a third of all deaths are iatrogenic, it might be better for the nations health for more people to miss their appointments.

  4. Does anyone know if they use overbooking to maximise resource utilisation, like airlines and hotels do?

    German GPs basically don’t make appointments except for totally routine stuff or follow-up. You got bad shit happenin’ now? Go join the queue forming outside the surgery at 8AM. Whereas in the UK with an appointments-based system at most places, the problem has either gone or killed you by the time you get to see someone.

  5. A possible solution would be to say right if you book and turn up, it’s free.

    If you fail to show you get charged 30 quid.


  6. @Bloke in Italy – can you imagine the sob stories in the Mirror? Fat Sharon, with her new i-thing, Sky TV and £70 hairdo, can’t feed the kids this week cos it’s soooooo unfair she missed her appointment and had to pay 30 quid she ‘asn’t got despite smoking £10 worth of tabs a day.

  7. “Does anyone know if they use overbooking to maximise resource utilisation, like airlines and hotels do?”

    Well of course they do, since it is a rationed service. This is the reason that you almost never see your doctor at the appointment time, but they may you wait first.

    “A possible solution would be to say right if you book and turn up, it’s free.

    If you fail to show you get charged 30 quid.


    Not quite as good as they have to find you to fine you.

  8. I’m not convinced the appointment fee has to be very large. As has been experienced with the plastic bag charge, people go to quite some effort to avoid paying an unnecessary 10p.

  9. Also, did Germany not start charging a nominal €10 fee a while back to stop timewasters and no-shows?

    Here in CH you get sent a bill either way, and depending on your insurance and your deductible it’s either out of pocket or claimed back.

  10. The €10 charge was dropped several years ago, basically as a vote-winning gesture. And the docs hated doing it. And the insurance companies complained it cost more to administer than it raised (not that that was the point).

    Oh, and the sob stories in the press of people with heart attacks trying to save €10.

    Different to CH – most services are billed directly to your insurer if you are in the public system, with your EHIC functioning basically like a debit card for health services. The €10 lives on in a few small and pointless ways such as hospital and ambulance co-pay.

  11. @Abacab,

    Is there a particular reason that you say CH instead of Switzerland, has something changed where we need to start using ISO nomenclature instead of the name of the country nowadays?

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