I'M a big fan of the NHS. Generally speaking, I've had nothing but good service and and excellent treatment, free at the point of use.

Yes, every now and then I've had a bit of a wait at my local hospital's A&E department but my problems were relatively minor in comparison to some of the other cases being dealt with so I was happy to wait.

But I do have a problem with my local GP practice.

And what is that problem you may ask. The answer is it is virtually impossible to get an appointment to see a doctor.

Appointments can only be made on the day. Every time I ring for an appointment, there are never any left and I have to call again the following day.

Then, when I ring the next day, there aren't any appointments left and I am again told I will have to ring the following day and so on an so on.

I wish I was joking but I'm not.

The logical outcomes of this 'system' are you get better without ever seeing a doctor or you get worse and end up in hospital as an emergency case.

And it turns out it's not just me who has a problem.

The results of the GP Patient Survey have just been published and yet again, the practice I use is near the bottom of the list, specifically because its patients have real problems with booking appointments.

Now I think the Patient Survey is a good thing. It proves that it's not just me who is having difficulties and maybe it can act as a spur to those practices to do better.

However, Dr Jonathan Griffiths, chairman of NHS Vale Royal CCG, has previously criticised the GP Patient Survey.

In a post on his blog called Best and Worst?, the Winsford GP said: “While I understand that people want information about the kind of service they can expect to receive in any one particular surgery compared to others in the town, you need to remember that it can be like comparing apples with oranges.

“The geographical location of each practice along with quirky historical preferences by patients means that every practice has a unique demographic make-up.

"The ability of the practice to meet the needs and expectations of the population it serves therefore varies considerably.”

I take his point but I am not convinced.

Irrespective of a practice's historical preferences or demographic make-up, surely an efficient appointment booking system is a basic prerequisite.

And if a practice can't even do that, it deserves a low patient satisfaction score.

  • Staying with the medical theme, there is a running battle in our household that revolves round the central heating thermostat.

I am happy for the temperature to be a little lower. My wife, on the other hand, would always prefer it to be a little higher.

So we end up with the situation where I'm sitting in the living room watching television wearing shorts and T-shirt while my wife has on a jumper and cardi and maybe even a blanket to keep her legs warm.

Now it looks like she's right and I'm wrong (nothing new there then).

According to a new study, the temperature of people's homes may impact their blood pressure with those with colder homes are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure.

The study by experts from University College London (UCL), examined data on people's blood pressure and the ambient temperature in their living rooms.

After comparing blood pressure readings of people in their own homes with temperature readings, researchers found that there was a statistically significant link between indoor temperature and a person's blood pressure.

Dr Stephen Jivraj of UCL's Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care said: "Our research has helped to explain the higher rates of hypertension, as well as potential increases in deaths from stroke and heart disease, in the winter months, suggesting indoor temperatures should be taken more seriously in diagnosis and treatment decisions, and in public health messages."

But will Dr Jivraj be there to take my blood pressure when the gas bill arrives, I wonder.

  • My reference to Bally Anne Day meals recently generated a discussion about food in general and somehow we ended up talking about gammon.

Now I like a nice gammon steak and it is a go-to choice for a pub meal for me.

But where on earth did the gammon and pineapple combination come from? I think that's just bizarre and a throwback to the culinary wasteland of the 1970s.

I'm a gammon and egg man myself.

But even more strange is the offering in some pub restaurants where you get gammon and egg and pineapple.

That's just wrong on so many levels.

Who on earth thought fruit and eggs was a good combination?