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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Infertility

Dr Sarah Gray, a GP in Truro, and clinical lead in sexual health for Central Cornwall PCT, passes on her best tips

Dr Sarah Gray, a GP in Truro, and clinical lead in sexual health for Central Cornwall PCT, passes on her best tips

Is GP spirit still alive?

What would Jobhunters from times gone by make of general practice today? Would they admire the sophistication ­ or yearn for the simple life?

Once upon a time, best beloved, when Noddy and Big Ears were cot-sharing, and watersports meant wash-day for Noddy's little car, the GP walked alone.

In those halcyon days the only stress was the chafe of tweed on scrotum, and RSI was linked with prune rationing, not a Gladstone bag-induced tenosynovitis.

The primary health care team consisted of Dr Pillar of the community, and his un-liberated female of the species, who might have been wife or housekeeper. Dr Pillar was multidisciplinary, dispensing charm and aspirin while performing candle-lit keyhole

caesareans. His lady was like a coffer-less Queen, a head-scarfed stoic who serenely multi-tasked and never whinged about his or anybody else's anus horribilis.

If Dr Pillar spirited in today from his heavenly retirement, and was set to work in one of today's practices, would he recognise the job?

Would he be jealous of our enormous workforce, and beg for reincarnation for the sheer pleasure of having his very own patient services manager? Would he understand the title?

Is there anyone out there who understands the title?

How would he fancy the role reversal? Could he walk backwards as he exited

the regal presence of the nurse practitioner? Could he cheerfully disentangle the Chinese-whispered messages from the six receptionists via the four phone lines, or would he yearn for that little notepad on the hall table by the sturdy textless Bakelite receiver? The splendid isolationism of general practice is virtually extinct.

The job used to require independent professionals who could comfortably handle responsibility and sleepless nights.

Now we need to be team players. Self-reliance in the consulting room can be seen as arrogance and intransigence, yet increasingly other disciplines lean on us for our opinions.

We are trusted to sign passports and nationalisation papers. No one can attend a gym, university, diving course or reality TV programme unless we first guarantee their temporary immortality. Yet we are not trusted to perform our daily patient care. I think I could rely on Dr Pillar to swat the quality inspectors.

The person who would really phase him, however, is the practice manager. I can see him floating around the eponymous health centre, wafting silently through the security doors, watching the incumbent senior partner making team-tea and changing the loo roll.

'Take me to your leader' cries the Ghost of Practice Past. The humble clinicians of Practice Present prostrate themselves, and the PM stalks all over them.

Dr Sally Whittet is a GP

in south London

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