One of my patients recently bought his influenza vaccine in a local supermarket.
He did not fit the criteria for NHS provision and the LMC has advised us that we are prohibited from providing this service privately.
He was left with no choice but to pay for an 'off the shelf' service, situated somewhere between the meat counter and the alcoholic drinks department. Apparently this provision of primary care is a favoured model with the present government.
Unfortunately, three days later he had a possible adverse effect from his treatment. Did he return to the supermarket for advice? Of course not. He booked a 'same-day' appointment with me and asked for my expert opinion. He did the same last year, when he became ill after eating an under-cooked meat pie - possibly from the same supermarket.
I half-considered sending him back to the supermarket to exercise his consumer rights, but I apologised for the fact that the government had prevented me from providing him with a complete medical service.
Things are only going to get worse if Lord Darzi has his way. Of course he probably doesn't realise that I also have to cope with patients who have been let down by surgeons.
Dr Nick Brown, Chippenham, Wiltshire.