Peterborough patient heal thyself... if you can get past the '˜care navigator'

I'm not sure what trainee doctors are told on day 1 of their expensive medical training, but I'm pretty sure it's not that you treat a gaping wound with a sticking plaster.

Thursday, 19th April 2018, 1:30 pm
Thornton on Thursday column with Peterborough Telegraph's deputy editor Nigel Thornton -

But look at the latest madness from the NHS. The gaping wound is the huge pressure on services from accident and emergency to ambulance services and GP surgeries.

The sticking plaster is to ‘train’ doctors’ receptionists to weed out time wasters.

That is the latest brainwave from the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). Of course they don’t describe it in the terms I do - they talk about supporting patients and carers to get the appropriate care. They even (surprise, surprise) have a special name for them – care navigators!

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The plan is that these “trained’’ receptionists will “ask a few questions’’ and basically decide if you can see a doctor or not.

What does this training entail? A medical degree?

Clearly there are people who go to doctors who don’t need them but if they can’t see a doctor won’t they simply take themselves off to join the queues in A&E?

Talk about shuffling the deckchairs on the Titanic.

This ill-conceived badly thought out scheme is also contradictory to other advice from the NHS.

I wouldn’t mind betting that a significant amount of “unnecessary’’ GP appointments are from parents worried for their children.

“Trust your instincts’’ is the message from the NHS to parents with poorly children. Now it seems they are being asked to trust the instincts of an unqualified stranger!

There are other issues, not least patient confidentiality.

What questions are these receptionists/care navigators going to be asking?

“Is it raining where you are? Where are you going on holiday?’’

If these questions are going to have any purpose they will have to be about your medical condition.

Yet these receptionists are not medically qualified, but even if they were, do you want to tell them intimate personal details?

At one of the places I lived in Peterborough my next door neighbour was the receptionist at the local GPs’ surgery.She was a lovely woman and I have no reason to doubt her integrity.

However, I would not have wanted to ring her up and have to tell her, for example, that I was bleeding from my back passage.

I apologise for being so graphic but this is exactly what could happen under this barmy system.

It won’t deter time-wasters. It will deter people who need and who are entitled to see their doctor.


Several times I have written in support of police and their need for more funding, but they don’t help themselves do they?

Somebody in the Met Police decided that despite the capital being in the grips of a murder spree it could afford to post SEVEN officers outside the courthouse where TV presenter Ant McPartlin was facing a drink-drive charge.

Perhaps they feared one of the posse of photographers would stab Ant with a camera tripod.


The behaviour of formerNene Park Academy teacher Ivan Reed has seen him banned from teaching. His ‘charge sheet’ includes punching a child in the arm and pulling another’s ear. It is a sign of the times that most of us over the age of 50 would probably have experienced some of this old school schooling when it was deemed perfectly acceptable. It isn’t – acceptable that is – and for that matter, it wasn’t even back in the day.


I spotted a lovely Bentley parked in Cowgate the other day. It was parked in one of the disabled bays.No problem, a blue badge was on display. I don’t have an issue with people with a disability having priority parking spaces near to shops and other venues. I do have a problem with them being free. It can’t be right that the rest of us are effectively subsidising somebody who can afford a Bentley.


There’s some snazzy new paving that has been laid in front of the former Telegraph offices as part of the Bourges Boulevard roadworks. I’m all for making the city look as good as possible but I’m a bit baffled at this. That stretch of pavement is hardly used (who’d want to walk alongside a busy dual carriageway unless they had to) and as the city council is always telling us times are tough and cash is short.

I don’t know the cost of this work, but I’m sure the paving is a lot more expensive than Tarmac. Surely the money would have been better spent elsewhere.

For example on Broadway where the state of the pavements are a disgrace and an embarrassment to the city.

Cracked, uneven and flooding at the merest hint of rain, it is also a very busy street for pedestrians with shops, pubs and clubs, and yes, until they move to swanky new offices in Fletton Quays,the city council.