Official: you are a GP
GP or not GP? That was the question posed by the RCGP two years ago as it queried whether the term 'general practitioner' was appropriate amid plummeting morale and a drop in status compared with consultants.
Now the college has come up with its answer. The title GP is here to stay.
Dr Mayur Lakhani, chair of the RCGP council, told Pulse this week the 'GP brand' was 'too valuable to lose'.
He added that, as far as status was concerned, the boot was now on the other foot. He said: 'A lot of specialists want to be GPs. I hear that every week.'
Dr Lakhani had been a strong proponent of scrapping the term general practitioner.
He argued GPs should be called a 'consultant general practitioner' or 'consultant in family medicine' to put them on the same status as hospital doctors.
In a BMJ article in 2003 he wrote: 'The term general practitioner is no longer appropriate and may be contributing to low self-esteem in the profession. Its ambiguous and pejorative connotations contribute to the idea of general practice as a dumping ground for problems that no one else wants to deal with.'
Dr Lakhani said GPs were 'winning the battle' to gain recognition. The new GP contract and the White Paper, which proposes moving hospital procedures into primary care, had caused a 'massive cultural change', he added. 'People were looking down on us. We are too good for that. We're operating at consultant level.'
But Dr Lakhani has demanded GPs be given greater power in newly-restructured PCTs to drive forward practice-based commissioning and other NHS changes.
In a letter to Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt, he has called for GPs to be given seats on the panels that appoint PCT chief executives and for professional executive committees (PECs) to be strengthened.
He said: '[GPs] are not interested in being commissioners. PCTs have not let go. The PEC should be the engine room so we've asked for the structure of PECs to be reviewed.'