Opinion

LBC host Nick Ferrari’s 12 GP appointments idea isn’t ‘radical’ – it’s ableist

LBC presenter Nick Ferrari lived up to his surname on Tuesday morning, as he spewed out ableist nonsense on his radio show faster than a high-speed car.

In a segment on the pressures facing the NHS given the rise in coronavirus cases (specifically of the Omicron variant, of course) Ferrari proposed a “radical” solution to staffing issues.

A proper package of funding for the health service? Increasing tax on the highest earners to generate financial support? Don’t be so logical.

“Today, I propose to you that you all have 12 appointments per annum, okay, which obviously works out at one a month. After that, you will be charged,” he proclaimed.

I understood Ferraris to be comfortable with u-turns, but in realising – no doubt – that his dragnet approach to dealing with ‘unnecessary’ appointments threw disabled, chronically ill and other vulnerable people under the bus, he added: “Unless it’s a desperately serious case such as cancer, whatever, and obviously that means all bets are off.”

What counts as a “desperately serious case” to the radio presenter remains unclear, as he unfortunately failed to realise that if your argument requires you to make the caveat that you’re not talking about disabled people, then your proposal is still discriminatory towards disabled people. Many disabled and chronically ill people have already responded to LBC’s tweet to point out that they would exceed the 12-per-year limit in a good month or two.

He continued: “But if you constantly come along and say, ‘I’ve got a bump on my bottom’ or, ‘I’ve got earache’ or, I don’t know, ‘I don’t feel well, I don’t think I can go to work’, whatever it might be – the myriad of complaints that confront those poor men and women, the army of GPs – you’ll effectively get one a month free, after which you’ll be charged somewhere in the order [of] probably about £50-60.”

The fee wouldn’t be means-tested, of course, just to throw some classism into the mix – and if you don’t have a legitimate excuse not to attend an appointment, then expect to cough up £100 and have three of your 12 appointments taken off you under Ferrari’s idea.

The issue with all of this, in case it wasn’t immediately obvious, is that it puts a price on necessity. By suggesting that a chat with a GP about a ‘bump on your bottom’ is pointless and would count as one of the 12, but a cancer diagnosis isn’t, you encourage a mindset where someone would question: ‘is the lump on this part of my body really worth bothering a GP for?’ A question which you really shouldn’t be asking yourself when it comes to new spots, lumps and bumps on our body.

Hell, even the NHS themselves have put out adverts saying “it’s probably nothing serious” but best to get it checked anyway. A system of ‘just in case’ is a far better approach than the lose-lose situation of £50 fee or skin cancer.

It’s clear that Ferrari is trying, in some way, shape or form, to reduce ‘unnecessary’ appointments, but is there such a thing as an ‘unnecessary’ visit to your GP when our health is known to fluctuate and be entirely unpredictable?

Funnily enough, it’s disabled and chronically ill people who are well experienced in the variability in our wellbeing.

If only you spoke to them first.


Photo: @LBC/Twitter.

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