The drive for profit at Marlborough Medical Practice
The Marlborough Medical Practice has come in for quite a lot of criticism latterly, and I have always gone in to bat on their behalf. My family had been medical for 4 or 5 generations; medicine is an inexact science/there are lots of variables/no one's insides look like the Gray's Anatomy engravings etc etc.
I am chairman and occasional relief driver for Kennet Community Transport (KCT) whose white minibus 5 days a week takes the elderly to the Jubilee Centre and those with other disabilities to the New Road Centre. We are a charity run on a shoe-string, as are the two day centres who are the source of most of our income. Normally our full-time employee drives the bus, but occasionally (sickness, holidays etc) volunteer relief drivers step in.
Any driver who turns 70 quite properly requires a DVLA medical examination to be allowed to continue driving a minibus (or other big vehicle). I am 70 shortly so in early January I wrote to my doctor at the practice to fix an appointment for the examination, saying I expected to pay, but hoping they would temper the fee because of KCT's circumstances. Telephone answer - £90 non-negotiable. I wrote to query it. It was restated after a partners' meetings. I wrote to the senior partner. It was restated by him (BMA recommended charge/transparency etc etc).
This seems to me a pretty poor show, fitting badly with the place the doctors of the practice occupy in the community. A moderated charge to charitable volunteer drivers would not open the flood gates to a host of volunteer minibus drivers. Still less to ones carrying elderly or disabled passengers who have often been referred to the day centres by the doctors themselves.
Not all practices are the same. Ramsbury did not charge KCT's treasurer form his examination, and driversmedicals.com do them in Swindon for £56 including giving £5 to charity. Clearly you can make a reasonable living charging less than £90.
The practice's doctors' intransigence reflects badly on them. They have a place in the community which carries some obligations. The pursuit of profit should accommodate these.
Alexander Kirk Wilson
Chairman - Kennet Community Transport