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At the heart of general practice since 1960

DoH promises delivery plan on GPs' obesity role

I can't help but think of three scenarios as I read Pulse's latest Shipman Inquiry coverage. The first is of how my colleagues must be thinking. Doctors throughout the country, whose total years' service to the NHS and their patients are too many to count, will be wondering whether it is all worth while. Do we really need the hassle and stress?

My second concern is how young, newly-qualified doctors are viewing this report and its recommendations. Is it likely to increase recruitment into general practice? I doubt it very much.

On the contrary, I think it will positively put them off primary care as a career option if they are going to be constantly under threat of investigation by PCOs or other Government-appointed organisations based on a complaint from a disgruntled or unsatisfied patient because you didn't prescribe the newest and most expensive drug for their snot!

The third thought that crossed my mind was of our current sixth-formers ­ just about to be interviewed for medical school for next October's intake. How must they be viewing this debacle? Is being a doctor really going to be like being constantly in the dock, whether you deserve it or not?

Suddenly, other careers become a much more attractive option and so intake to medical schools will fall.

And all this because one GP, a loner and an evil sociopath, was able to systematically murder hundreds of his patients without being brought to task.

Would the current proposals have altered his behaviour? Well, who knows? But one thing is for certain, he was clever enough to avoid detection for years and the likes of Shipman would probably have been astute enough to overcome any obstacles.

How many other doctors do you know who would fit that category? Can't say I have ever come across a single person in 24 years' service and I suspect the vast majority of my colleagues would claim likewise.

The enormous cost of the inquiries on Shipman and the final report may make good headlines and appease those involved, but for general practice and maybe medicine in general, it could be the start of a rapid decline.

Dr David Jones

Bangor, Gwynedd

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