19 May 2007

The cost of medical care for a hamster

How much should GPs get paid compared with, say, vets? They plainly get less - or so Dr Grumble thinks. Dr Grumble knows quite a few GPs and he has been in their homes. Mostly they are very modest. He knows where his vet lives (Mrs Grumble once had 22 pets to care for). He has not been in the vet's house. It's up a very long drive and there are big electric gates at the end. There's usually building work going on there - new swimming pools, that sort of thing. It's very grand.

Dr Grumble has only been to the vets' practice once. Mrs Grumble goes quite often. But once it was urgent so Dr Grumble had to go. As regular readers might know, Dr Grumble used to work for the military. Some years ago an ex-SAS man, hired to do some work in the former Yugoslavia, asked Dr Grumble to look after his dog while he was away. Now you might expect an SAS soldier to have a decent dog, something big, perhaps the sort of mutt a skinhead might have in tow. But no. This SAS man had a Norfolk terrier. And it had its own toothbrush!

A Norfolk terrier.

Needless to say the pooch duly arrived - along with a sponge bag and the toothbrush. Now there was no way Dr Grumble was going to clean its teeth - despite the canine halitosis. But, other than that, Dr Grumble felt that he had a duty of care to this apology of a dog. So when one day Dr Grumble noticed that the dog had rigors he thought he had better get the creature to the vet before it, well, died. Dr Grumble described the signs and thought that the vet would do the rest. He wasn't going to tell the vet that he thought the dog obviously had pus somewhere. But the vet, the one with the very big house, just reassured Dr Grumble. 'Little dogs do shiver a lot,' he said. A morning delayed to work and somebody else's sick dog on his hands - Dr Grumble was not happy. Needless to say the unfortunate dog had pus in its anal glands. Mrs Grumble took him back and found a vet that would listen. One quick squeeze and the pus was ejected. The mutt was then as right as rain. Next time Dr Grumble will do it himself.

A good squeeze puts them right.

Now what has all this got to do with how much GPs get paid? Well how much do you think your GP gets paid for looking after you compared with how much your vet gets paid for looking after your hamster? The answer is given by Dr Prit Buttar in today's Telegraph. Here's what he has to say:
Per patient, per year, I am paid approximately £50, regardless of how many times I see them. That's a year's unlimited cover. The cheapest policy I could find for pet insurance - for a hamster - was £65 a year, plus £50 excess. So your health care costs less than your pet rodent's. GPs are excellent value for money.

Mrs Grumble used to be a GP. The figure has gone up a lot since then. But it's still only a modest sum.

By the way the vets around here are doing so well they have bought a vineyard. You can read about this in Dr Grumble's first ever post [Well you can't any more. Several people identified Dr G from this naive start to the blog so it is now offline.]