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How are you feeling? The Government wants to know…

GPs remain a bit of a mystery to ministers, but a new initiative could just change that

By Richard Hoey

GPs remain a bit of a mystery to ministers, but a new initiative could just change that



As you sit in your practice, or in your office back home, or in your living room with a computer perched on your lap, how are you feeling?

Gloomy about the future? Unaccountably cheerful? Knackered to the point of brain dead?

And how about the pay award? Are you relieved at the uplift or disappointed by it?

Or are you, as I know many of the Pulse team have been, just completely baffled that one deal can be so mesmerisingly complicated?

I'm asking not because I want to know, although I do, but because I've been asked to ask you. By, of all people, the Department of Health.

It turns out that ministers are worried by how little they know about GPs.

They have no idea if you're loving your jobs or hating them, to what extent you are still brooding over extended hours and whether three years of being bashed by the Daily Mail has had a permanently paranoia-inducing effect.

I met with Clare Chapman last week, who is director-general of workforce at the DH, or its head of HR.

She said there is good information out there about the morale of the NHS workforce in general, but GPs are a bit of a black hole.

It's all to do with the disparate nature of general practice, apparently, and the huge variety of local enthusiasms and disputes engaged in by GPs across the country.

And of course, without knowing how GPs are feeling, or even how to go about finding out, the Government has no idea how to avoid putting its foot in it with the profession. Which perhaps explains some of Ben Bradshaw's less diplomatic interventions.

I said I'd pass the message on.

So then, how are you feeling? And if the Government wants to know, how should it go about asking? A questionnaire? A giant web survey? One-on-one interviews with an enthusiastic young person from the PCT?

The nation is waiting for your views.

By Richard Hoey, Pulse deputy editor

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