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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Paper, paper everywhere

Our diarist discovers that the paperwork, not passing exams, is the tough part of qualifying as a GP

Our diarist discovers that the paperwork, not passing exams, is the tough part of qualifying as a GP

"You look a bit peaky, doctor." My patients have a right to be worried. For you see, I've just managed to pass the MRCGP. Not only that, I have successfully completed my registrar year. This was the direct result of blagging, waffling, smoke and mirrors, favours, outright bribery, and even a little bit of studying. The latter seems to have proved surprisingly worthwhile, so there's a hot tip for young registrars.

But it's not this which has worn me out. It's the paperwork. Let me attempt to explain the steps: (1) The registrar obtains the VTR2 forms, fills them in, and sends them off to the consultant responsible for their SHO positions. (2) Upon their signed and stamped return the registrar then forwards them off to the deanery. (3) Once they have been signed and stamped again the registrar then sends them off to the recognition unit.

At this point certain registrars (i.e. me) discover that although all versions of the VTR forms read "September 05", there are in fact several variations on the loose. The subtle but crucial difference is that anything printed before approximately March 07 will have the wrong freaking address on them. Certain registrars (i.e. me) will then learn that their VTR forms have either been burned or are lining the cages of a pet shop in Spitalfields. The friendly advice given was "please return to step (1)."

(4) The registrar then attempts to get PMETB recognition at approximately the same time as (4a) they obtain, process, and submit their VTR1 form (See steps 1-3 as above, Trainer variant). (4b) Having been bitten once the registrar makes bloody well sure the addresses are all present and correct and neurotically phones several times a day to check progress. (4c) The registrar follows each and every link on the college and PMETB websites only to ultimately discover that the only way to get a PMETB application form is to join the college as an associate. Given that this is the final month in which the registrar can possibly be an associate, the 350 pound fee equates to just less than 100 pounds a week.

(4d) The registrar phones the college and discovers that one of his VTR2 forms has an original signature and stamp from the college and an original signature and stamp from the deanery but that, inexplicably, the parts that he has filled in himself appear to have bee photocopied. Please return to (1).

(5) The registrar obtains PMETB certification and takes the original forms to the local PCT only to discover it has been moved due to floods. Following the coloured pencil sketch pinned to the door he finds a decayed and overgrown Victorian structure whose gate reads "Beware of Leopard" (apologies to the late, great Douglas Adams). In the dimly lit basement of this structure a gnomish figure will open a vast and dusty ledger, verify the final figures against his birth, marriage, and proposed dates of death, and then give him the job of his dreams.

Actually, I'm not 100 per cent about (5) because I've not quite got there yet as (4) took a bit longer than anticipated. I will let you know.

Geoff Tipper

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