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GPs buried under trusts' workload dump

Mainstream media portrays GPs negatively, finds study

Mainstream media portrayals of GPs are overwhelmingly negative, and markedly worse than portrayals of hospital doctors, a study has found.

The thematic analysis, published by the BJGP, analysed 403 articles on GPs published in national newspapers in the year from October 2016. Researchers also analysed a representative sample of 100 articles on hospital doctors.

The researchers, from the University of Oxford, assigned codes to themes that featured repeatedly across the sample. They then grouped articles by code, to quantify patterns in the coverage.

The paper concluded that GPs are portrayed as responsible for the strain on general practice, whereas hospital doctors are seen as resisting Government cuts.

More than 25% of articles described a workforce crisis in general practice, highlighting the number of experienced GPs leaving jobs, the difficulty recruiting GPs, and the growing demand for part-time work.

Articles also depicted GPs as a barrier to patient access, criticising resistance to the rollout of longer practice hours, and championing larger surgeries and online consultation services, without highlighting potential drawbacks.

The researchers also found that GPs were presented as having personal vices or lacking virtues. One in seven articles focused on inappropriate behaviour by GPs, including domestic violence, sexual harassment and fraud.

GPs were presented as motivated by personal gain, greed and laziness, where hospital doctors were viewed as dutiful, hard-working and resilient, the researchers said.

The study concluded that though the strain on general practice is a legitimate concern, ‘almost without exception, newspaper articles framed this narrative in a particular way that reflected negatively on the GPs themselves’.

The paper said: ‘The traditional family doctor service was depicted as rapidly eroding through privatisation and fragmentation, with GPs portrayed as responsible for the crisis and the resulting negative impact on quality of care.’

The findings come as general practice faces severe pressures. Despite ongoing recruitment and retention issues, health secretary Matt Hancock told Pulse there was no new target date for recruiting 5,000 more GPs.

 

Readers' comments (6)

  • well done BMA and RCGP

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  • THIS IS WHAT EVERYBODY KNOWS.

    WHAT EVERYBODY DOES NOT KNOW IS THAT THE TORY PARTY ACTIVELY "BRIEFS" THE MEDIA AGAINST GPs.
    AN EXAMPLE IS WHEN THEY "BRIEFED" AGAINST JUNIOR DOCTORS.

    THE PROBLEM WITH THIS "MORONIC" STRATEGY IS THAT IS IS SHORT-TERMISM...IT WORKS BY BULLYING THOSE INTO SUBMISSION BUT LONGER TERM ONLY SERVES TO WORSEN RECRUITMENT/RETENTION AND THE NHS.

    COULD A JOURNALIST WITH A CONSCIENCE (IS THERE ONE OUT THERE FROM THE TABLOIDS??) PLEASE ADMIT TO THESE INSANE MORAL CRIMES AND PROMISE TO STOP DAMAGING THE NHS AND SOCIETY.

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  • The RCGP has reduced GP from a profession to a ‘blue collar’ trade.

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  • COME ON YOU DAILY NUTTER JOURNALISTS...YOU SPEND LONG ENOUGH FAKING BEING A DOCTOR TO POST ON THIS WEBSITE....GIVE US AN ANSWER !

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  • Privatisation will bring professionalism and respect as well as our freedom back. We can finally use what drugs we deemed best for our patients rather than the cheap changes that does not take into account our time and workload. Nobody appreciates anything that is free. Sad reality of life.Go the dentist way.

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  • I'm glad the RCGP have woken up to the corrosive effects this is having as it's been going on unchecked for years. General practice is an extremely hard speciality to work in as reflected by the recruitment and retention crisis - most doctors I know are doing OK financially but very much middle class rather than super-rich. The constant media bashing is making things much worse and is obviously being lead by the government and vested industrial interests. General practice is contracting at an alarming rate with a record number of closures and huge vacancy rate. It's unclear if it will be missed when its gone but nobody has suggested exactly what will replace it.

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