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CAMHS won't see you now

'The GPs who don't even know your name'? These patients would beg to differ...

As the row over A&E attendances and GP out-of-hours care rumbles on, the Daily Mail weighed in with a classic GP-bashing front page this morning, under the somewhat emotive banner headline ‘The GPs who don’t even know your name’.

The article, based on a leak of the speech health secretary Jeremy Hunt is due to make on Thursday, predictably stirred up a lot of GP anger. But when Pulse editor Steve Nowottny took to Twitter and jokingly suggested users tweet in support of their GP with the hashtag #myGPknowsmyname, it quickly became apparent many patients were up in arms too.

Although it was a somewhat tongue-in-cheek suggestion, Twitter has responded (as Twitter often does) enthusiastically, with dozens of patients, GPs and other NHS staff taking to their keyboards in defence of the profession.

Here are a few of the best:





What’s your experience of your GP? Tell us in the comment section below or on Twitter with the hashtag #myGPknowsmyname.

Readers' comments (24)

  • I am on the Patient Participation Group at my GP surgery.

    My GP surgery used to be excellent. When there were partners practicing. Everyone's family GP seemed to know their patients and the patients seemed to assess the practice as excellent. One of my consultants said it was the best practice in the area. I and my husband used to say our area was too good to move from because of the excellent surgery. Then four of the partners retired two years ago, they were actually at retirement age or older. Another partner left to look after her children. This left two young partners who decided to employ salaried doctors to see to the patients. The two young partners are devoting themselves to the business side of things. The turnover of the salaried doctors over the last 18 months has been ridiculous. There is no way that any of these doctors can get to know their patients and as a consequence patients with long term conditions suffer. It takes at least two weeks to get an appointment, a "routine" appointment that is. Oh yes, anyone can get a five minute appointment on the day with the duty doctor. There is no way that this duty doctor can know the patient, unless he/she happens to be the doctor the patient (tries) to see usually. Our surgery is like a mini A&E and I was saying that 12 months ago, long before Jeremy Hunt was reported as saying that today. At the most the GP's are only good for first aid and triage, ie referral to a consultant.

    My consultant, who had praised our GP surgery so much, has now advised me to transfer to another surgery that serves our area - only problem is the other surgery isn't taking on new patients so I and other patients are left stuck with a dreadful surgery. Thankfully I am pretty much an expert in "me" - not that any of these salaried doctors like that...oh no, when I try to explain something about "me" they don't want to hear and complain they haven't time. They don't have time to read my notes properly either. What about other patients who are not expert in "themselves" - that's the reason I continue to partake on the Patient Participation Group, to stand up for those patients...not that we on the Group appear to have been able to make any difference - the partners are not really interested, I wonder if they have set up the Group just for the extra dosh from the government ? Sorry to sound so cynical.

    Thankfully I have good hospital consultants who care for me.

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  • I think the writer of this article, Jessica Baron, has cherry picked the comments from Twitter. There are many people who write about the problems with their GPs in the Mail here:

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  • When I read Anne Bedish's comment my 1st reaction was that sounds just like the surgery I work in.
    5 partners have retired all replaced by a constant stream of salaried doctors. Patients want to know WHO EXACTLY is their doctor. The answer is everyone and no one!

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  • I should clarify that the two partners at my surgery do not want to invite new partners to work at the surgery, they expressly only want salaried doctors.

    Also I should make it clear that the five minute appontment on the day with the duty doctor is only for "urgent" problems. That's fine for acute conditions and the doctor doesn't need to know the patient's name !

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  • Anne Bedish

    You have described the decline of the traditional GP practice.

    If the politicians have their way there will be no option to have your own GP who knows you. Practices will have been taken over by 'Care UK, Harmoni or Virgin". They will be staffed by a succession of doctors who are just passing through and will see you on the day but they won't know you or care about you in the same way that a GP who is part of the community and been there for twenty years or more.

    Blame the Government for making this happen. They have engineered this. Continuity of care is best for patients and doctors too.

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  • Sadly, the incentive to become a partner in a GP practice decreases every year due to the ever increasing workload of a GP partner. In addition, the incentive for existing GP partners to take on new GP partners no longer exists as a practice can easily become 'financially crippled' by taking on new partners. Who's to blame? Is it the DoH for not keeping the GP contract in line with the rest of their professional peers since 2004 (e.g. lawyers,dentists etc) or is it the 'Greedy GP' portrayed by the Daily Mail trying to earn their 'quarter of a million per year'? As a GP partner, my overall take home pay has reduced every year over the last 4 years and after expenses (including pension contributions) is comparable to my pay as a trainee junior doctor 7 years ago. Is it worth being a GP partner compared to being a trainee? Financially it makes no sense as my responsibilities and workload have gone up exponentially with little financial reward. However, if you were to ask me 'Do you enjoy your job and do you enjoy seeing your patients?' (by the way I know all their names!), I would have unequivocally say 'absolutely yes!'. This unfortunately is the problem - I would say the majority of GP partners and salaried GP love seeing the majority of their patients and would love to get to know their patients by name but the climate of 'top-down politically driven red tape' has ,and I would argue intentionally, driven a firm wedge between the doctor and the patient relationship. The DoH has never valued continuity of care and the government's agenda of fragmenting General Practice is slowly but surely coming to fruition. Your local friendly GP practice (and I hope you had one at some point!) will soon become obsolete and the Tesco, Virgin, Atos healthcare 'hypersurgery' will soon become present with the cheapest available GPs being shipped from anywhere to provide the largest profit margins with very little incentive to 'actually care.' Sadly, they won't know your name and they may vary from day to day but you'll probably get an appointment at any time on any given day - your choice (or is it?!!!)

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  • anonymous 9.55.
    Our Profession and College are also to blame for constantly agreeing to rising performance without the resources to deliver it.

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  • Anonymous 11.11 pm - 18 months ago at a Patients Participation Group, the two GP partners told us that they were taking on salaried doctors and wouldn't take on partners because, they had the audacity and guile to tell us, that salaried doctors would give better continuity of care ! I had just happened to have read on Pulse and the BMJ a good article comparing partners and salaried doctors and it was clear that continuity of care was unlikely to happen with salaried doctors. At the meeting I pointed this out and the partners "reassured" me that continuity of care would be better than ever with salaried doctors ! I am sure now that the partners were just trying to fob the Patients Participation Group, whether that was for financial reasons or not I cannot say. I also expressed concern that the practice would be 'sold' to Virgin or some other such company - I still have that concern. Patients appear to have absolutely no power to sway what is happening to GP surgeries....despite the fact that we are all tax payers who have paid for our health service.

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  • @Anne Bedish
    I am sorry about what has happened to your surgery, but your criticism of the.current partners without being aware of the financial situation is unfair. There are a couple of possibilities:
    1. Your GP partners are trying to make a lot of money.
    2. Your practice is failing due to financial pressure meaning that it no longer has the option of appointing partners. Partners have a huge workload compared to salried GPs, if their finances could only provide 5 partners with an income equal to or just above a salried dr they would not be able to find a new partner or may leave themselves for less stressful salaried work.

    I am afraid the second scenario is becoming very common as is the press and public blaming the drs who are trying to keep things in balance.

    As for participation groups they are very good at demanding a level of service but poor at defining how the service should be funded. So next time your group asks for money to be spent it should consider nominating which service should be dropped to fund it. The decisions become more difficult then.

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  • As many commentators on this site are fond of saying, there has actually been a 4% fall in the number of GP principles over the last few years.
    What they all fail to mention is at the same time there has been a 720% increase in salaried doctors and GP locums. The reasons for this are complex, but we have far more GPs than ever, many being exploited by their GP principle 'colleagues', and many working less than full-time. So whatever the problems are, is not through a lack of increasing the bums on seats in the consultation rooms. It is more about their engagement and remuneration, plus an undoubted increase in the overall workload.

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  • Anonymous 8.09am - as I wrote, I could not say whether the partners did what they did for financial reasons or not, but I do know that the practice is not failing due to financial pressure, that I can be sure of. The surgery is taking on more patients and is the only surgery in the area open to new patients. It also happens to be the largest surgery in the area with at least three times as many patients as the other surgery that serves our area which is not taking on new patients. I don't think there's a lot of transparency.

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  • Anne B..well done you for sticking out their nonsense for so long....most become so cynical about the run around and tokenism they say stuff it and move many of your original group are still involved?

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  • Anonymous 5.56pm - There were four patients on the Patient Participation Group and there are still three of us - the one who left was a retired GP who got thoroughly disenchanted with what was happening which was very sad to see.

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  • As a new salaried GP in a practice, I have every intention of getting to know my patients (including their names!) , but with over 8000 people registered there, and the realistic possibility that I could be seeing up to 200 of them per week at 10-minute intervals, it's very likely that it could take me some time!

    Please, Anne Bedish, there are some if us who share the same values as you, and who strive to deliver high-quality, personal care to their patients; but it is vital that patients such as yourself give young doctors such as myself a chance. We all have to start somewhere, and if GP-bashing media, government and patients don't have their way and replace us all with faceless conglomerates, in 20 years time, when we've learnt all your names and know your life-stories, it'll be us you won't want to let go of !

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  • Anonymous 7.37pm - then please stay at your practice ! And encourage your colleagues to stay ! The problem is when there is a rapid turnover of salaried GPs, such as has been at our surgery, that it is impossible for them to get to know the patients. Two of the earliest ones who were very good left to become partners at other practices - they might have stayed had they been offered partnerships at our practice. One of them spoke to me before he left and said he wanted to have more say in how the practice was run but he couldn't as a salaried doctor, and since the practice were not taking on partners he left.

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  • 20 years ago I saw patients for about 6 hours a day in surgery, 1-2 hours of home visits, 1-2 hours of paperwork and got home for lunch and out in the evening. Some evening and weekend work. On call 1 in 3 but rarely called out. I worked about 50 hours a week but had to be available for nearer 80.

    By 2003 I was working 8 am to 11pm, doing one evening a fortnight, and I gave up out of hours because I couldn't cope.

    Now I work 8am [or before] to midnight most days. I work flat out 4 days a week,and do paperwork on the other 3 days a week for at least 6 hours average each day. I see patients for about 18 - 20 hours in that time - and phone them for another 8 or 12?? The rest is paperwork, ensuring we comply with standards, having meetings, and ticking boxes to ensure we get paid enough to continue to have reception staff and locums to service rising patient demands.

    Folk honestly now expect to see a doctor as soon as they get a pain and before they take a paracetamol!

    I Spend 2/3 of my time doing admin. I work 80+ hours a week and get ratty. This is not the job I became a GP to do. I have not switched off my mobile phone except in an aircraft or the theatre [turning it on briefly in the interval to check] since I first got one. I try to take responsibility for sorting things out for my patients. But i've lost the will to live.
    i've gone part time, and I'm almost certainly going if this latest lot of rubbish comes about. Me - and at least 20% of my colleagues who otherwise would not have retired for another 5 or 10 years - will be gone in the next 2 years .

    and may god have mercy on the patients.

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  • The last few governments and their politicians have blindly(or been advised by ex gps who cannot stomach the front line) to impose contracts on us,constantly changing them due to their failures despite us trying to keep on top. Why should we be blamed for the failure of their plans.
    It is Wednesday evening and I have already worked 36 hours' this week,I have done four joint injections two minor surgery ops,done 5 surgeries with booked 10 minute appointments and 1 with urgent 5minute appointments,not to mention telephone calls,letters,it,repeat prescriptions,checking mail and X-rays and laboratory tests and taking a medical student on Tuesday morning.
    After 29 years I still enjoy the job and do know most of my regular patients and their families and many of the names of my partners patients also.
    I strongly believe in the NHS and have committed 35 years of my life to provide a good service which drains at times. When I finally retire I certainly won't miss the whingeing and whining politicians and journalists in this decaying country of Britain(once Great)and milked and laughed at by the 1st,2nd and 3rd world.

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  • anne beddish.the problem at your surgery is exceptional.we are a mordern well equipped teaching practice,but still we are having problems recruiting two partners for the last 18 months.i think lots of new gp's do locums out of choice.any takers can e mail me

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  • Anne Bedish, while I respect your comments, just because you sit on the PPG doesn't mean you have a say in how the practice should recruit its medical workforce. The partners probably have a large financial stake in the practice and need to consider all the pros and cons of taking on partners vs salaried. In fact it is often more expensive to take on a salaried than a partner. There are of course people who wouldn't take a partnership no matter what the circumstances, me included, you only have to look in the BMJ jobs section to see how may vacant partnerships there are currently. The way general practice practice is going in this country, things will only get worse and in the future you'll be lucky to have a free GP service.

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  • Anonymous 2.05 - I don't think you have understood what I was saying at all. I certainly would not dream of having a say in how our practice should recruit its medical workforce. However, at the PPG the partnered doctors explained to us what they were doing re the recruitment of salaried doctors and they told us how they felt this would improve continuity of care for patients as opposed to taking on partners instead. As a consequence of this policy, continuity of care has got worse, and, as I explained, there has been a huge turnover in salaried doctors and so the doctors don't know the patients' names and the patients don't know the doctors.

    The purpose of writing in this thread was that the editor had asked "What’s your experience of your GP? Tell us in the comment section below...." So I did ! I doubt there are many 'patients' who read Pulse which is why no other patient has joined this thread.

    As to being lucky to get a free GP service - I was not aware that our GP service was free. We pay taxes and the cost of our GP service is paid out of our taxes. I, for one, would be more than happy to pay the GP a nominal sum as we do when we see an NHS dentist - that way a symbolic contract is set up between doctor and patient at the start of a consultation saying, in effect, to the doctor "I am paying you so you must therefore treat me to the best of your ability". I think it would be very difficult to get this kind of system set up in the UK, but there's no problem with it in France where patients pay something like €20 to see their GP.

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