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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Give up your BMWs ­ and join us poor inner-city GPs

As the process of professional castration accelerates, Dr David Turner urges GPs to stand up and fight ­ like professionals

What does it mean to be a professional? I used to think it meant that one had studied and practised for long enough in a discipline that one was considered an expert in that field. In my youthful innocence I thought it would mean independence, control over my own destiny and the freedom to work without supervision. Indeed even being responsible for supervising others. How misguided I was.

Tony Blair and co are systematically eroding away the 'professional' in 'medical professional'. Soon we will be nothing more than medical technicians processing a conveyor belt of patients according to a centrally determined checklist. Is it necessary to spend nine years training to be a glorified factory worker?

This accelerating process of professional castration has not gone unnoticed by the public. How many patients come to see us and seem to favour the opinion of their neighbour/friend/dementing octagenarian aunt over ours. When I see a professional I respect and trust them. When I speak to my accountant I answer his questions, give him the information he needs then follow his advice. Otherwise I would not use his services. I certainly do not contradict him with advice given by my friend the bookkeeper.

Self-regulation is fundamental to being a professional. By definition a lay person cannot sit in judgment over someone whose field they do not work in. If the Government wants to destroy the GMC and have civil servants monitor us, then fair enough, but it must apply to MPs as well. The day disciplinary committees for MPs are made up of plumbers and postmen is the day I will be happy to have a non-medical person judge my practice.

As for allowing the public to access information on complaints against us and health information, well fine. In future, though, every time I step on a plane I want to be given documentary evidence of the pilot's qualifications, a list of any 'near misses' and details of his last medical examination.

I expect my solicitor to display a sign advising me of the number of complaints made to the Law Society about him. Particularly, though, I want to walk into my MP's surgery, demand an appointment with him the next day, then ask for a list of the educational activities he has participated in over the last year relevant to the needs of his constituents.

Am I the only one who feels like this? If not, let's fight to keep doctoring a profession. Our so-called leaders are doing impressions of doormats so we each need to act independently to oppose what the Government is doing to us.

We are a valuable resource in short supply. We should be calling the shots, not standing pathetically with the apple balanced on top of our head.

Let us start by every doctor writing to his or her MP and to Tony Blair. Just before the next election is a good time. Write to national newspapers and tell your patients how shabbily we are being treated. Use your imagination and initiative, after all isn't that what being a professional is about?

Dr David Turner is a salaried GP

working in London

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