Health Matters – June 2021

Four Issues  in this month’s Health Matters

  • The Future of the MIU
  • Covid Update
  • GP Records
  • Private GP Appointments

1. The Future of the MIU – If you need urgent care but it’s not urgent enough for A&E what do you do – it’s  a Labyrinth; there’s Urgent Treatment Centres, Urgent Care Centres and Minor Injuries Units!

In St Albans our Minor Injuries Unit has been closed since the start of Covid – initially because the resources were needed in Watford and subsequently because of the fear of bringing Covid into the Hospital as it’s being heavily used at the moment for elective operations.

So let’s try and unpick this. The core issue is that there’s a big difference between Injuries and Illnesses. Injuries are essentially a patch-up job – and they are usually treated by a nurse. But  Illnesses are essentially a diagnostics job – to determine what is going on and that needs both expertise and technology (blood tests, ultrasound, x-ray etc.)

The Herts Valleys Commissioning Group (which approves the money!), has looked at four options:-

  • Do Nothing – but that provides a poor level of service to St Albans Residents
  • Re-open the MIU – probably acceptable as a minimum
  • Provide a full Urgent Care Centre (similar to Hemel and the QE2) which would hardly be affordable; and
  • Create a new Urgent Care Hub staffed by GPs and Nurses. It would be run on the basis of pre-booked appointments (to minimise waiting times and packed waiting rooms) and would be a realistic option.

There’s going to be a full consultation launched this week with detailed descriptions of the options and a survey for listeners to complete. Full details at from Thursday

2. Covid Update – the case rate in St Albans is currently 32 per 100,000 – up from 6 on May 1st this is down to the Delta Variant that was first identified in India; that compares to 57 in Watford and 55 in Rickmansworth.

The majority of cases are among the young who haven’t been vaccinated and hospital admissions (which are 7) are typically among the elderly who haven’t been vaccinated. We have a double whammy going on at the moment:-

  • There’s a rush to get the under 30 cohort done, especially in the hard hit areas;
  • This group needs the Pfizer/Moderna vaccine as the AZ vaccine can cause clots
  • The lack of vaccine means that second doses are being delayed;
  • The latest data shows that a single vaccine dose is as low as 35% effective against the Delta Variant.

3. GP Records – we talked about this last month – the implementation date has been put back to September 1st so the deadline to opt out is August 23rd.

4. Private GP Appointments – this is a tricky one. With GPs being so busy at the moment and face-to-face appointments being hard to come by should you look at private medicine? There are two ways this can be done;

  • The first model is an insurance type policy – for less than £12 a month you can get a doctor’s appointment whenever you need one – 24/7! And
  • The second model is a “pay as you go model” based on around £35 for an appointment

The concept of the NHS is free at the point of need – but sometimes you may feel that self-interest outweighs principles and at such prices it may well be worth it – esp if you’re desperate!

This list is a sample of companies offering the services mentioned in the podcast;  it is not an exhaustive list!

Insurance covering GP Appointments

Benenden –

Medicspot –

“Pay as you go” Appointments

GoGo Doctor –

DocTap –
London Doctors Clinic St Albans –

Alan Bellinger

Jun 14 2021

Alan Bellinger Written by:

Alan is a Trustee of Healthwatch Hertfordshire and very well engaged with all things related to Health & Social Care within the Community. After retirement from a successful career in the private sector (working in both training and Information Technology), Alan wanted to get involved in supporting local health issues and has an excellent understanding of what it takes to ensure a great patient experience, Alan has lived in St Albans for well over 65 years; he is a widower with two children and he especially enjoys the company of his five grandchildren – four of whom live in the local area.