THE BLOG

A Wait Off Our Minds

02/07/2014 11:41 BST | Updated 30/08/2014 10:59 BST

What has the Chiltern Firehouse, London's hottest restaurant, for the time being, at least, got in common with the average GP surgery?

On the face of it, not a lot. Hold on, is that your doctor lunching with Cara Delevingne? That's surely taking their bedside manner a bit too far, isn't it?

When was the last time they prescribed you crab stuffed doughnuts, sea trout crudo with yellow mole sauce, chargrilled Iberico pork, caesar salad with crispy chicken skins and apple panna cotta with toasted meringue and a herb granita instead of Zopiclone, Bendroflumethiazide, Ramipril, Microgynon and Co-codamol? Not forgetting a side of Diprobase and Ezetrol.

Of course, Cara is likely to forego the dessert. All the same, let's hope the NHS isn't footing the bill.

Sorry, it's actually Steven Spielberg she's meeting with. Well, that's OK then. He can afford it. Emergency over.

The point is that call up either your local medical practice or Andre Balazs' latest celebrity haunt and you're likely to get a vaguely similar response.

"Nothing for the next four weeks, I'm afraid" is not unheard of when you try and get an appointment for your lumbago.

Whereas, if you currently attempt to book a table for dinner at, say, 8pm for this coming Friday, all you'll probably hear on the other end of the phone is "Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha". Followed by a polite "Nothing till October and even then we can only squeeze you in at midnight. And, by the way, we will need the table back at 12.45".

It's really not such a good idea for your digestion to be eating so late.

Despite this, you find yourself saying, "Lovely, I'll take it".

To tell you the truth, you'd probably have more luck if you got the telephone numbers mixed up and tipped up at the aforementioned restaurant with a painful swelling under your armpit.

"The maitre d' will see you now, Sir".

On the other hand, arrive at a surgery for your evening dinner reservation and it's difficult to know whether anyone will be available to prepare blackened salmon with sea kale and trout roe.

Maybe the receptionist could rustle you up a plate of beans on toast.

All joking aside, there is no doubt that the health service in Britain has reached a critical state of affairs, especially where GPs are concerned.

When you do finally get to see them or, as is often the case, another GP in the surgery who has never examined you before, you're only given 10 minutes.

How on earth is that enough time to correctly diagnose a condition that, while unlikely to be life threatening, could potentially be something altogether more serious?

Is it any wonder that misdiagnoses do on occasion occur? We've all heard the horror stories of people who walk into the consulting room only to walk out after being told that it's nothing to worry about. Six months later they're dead.

The paying of any form of medical care in this country has always been a thorny issue. And particularly so when you experience at close quarters the fantastic level of care you get in hospital.

Recently, I found myself quite ill, but the treatment I received was genuinely second to none. It made me give thanks to the memory of Aneurin Bevan. Alright, the food may not have been to the standard of that dished up by Nuno Mendes. But then again you wouldn't expect it to be.

However, I do have a private GP. The reason for this is that if I ever feel unwell, I know I can rely on him to be there for me. I know that if I want to see him urgently, I'll be lying back on his examining couch in a heartbeat. I can also trust him to know everything about my condition and to correctly identify any potential problems. I'm just not sure that this would be the case if I was in and out of someone's door in 10 minutes.

Think back to the days when you could easily find an NHS dentist. This is no longer true.

Before we reach a similar state of affairs with GPs, perhaps a solution is that everyone pays a nominal sum of money towards their basic medical care. Not a fortune. Maybe £12 a month (less than the cost of a pint of beer a week). This would allow for the freeing up of resources and increase the number of practitioners in the system. More surgeries could then be open and for longer. Resulting in an increased amount of time being given to patient care.

Not surprisingly, it would be a miracle if such a scheme was ever implemented.

Still, miracles do happen. Chiltern Firehouse have just called. Apparently, Bill Clinton has cancelled his table. It's mine if I want it.