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Minister blames 'counsel of despair' GPs for poor training uptake

A junior health minister has told MPs that pessimistic GPs are partly to blame for the recruitment issues facing the profession.

Speaking at a House of Commons Library Debate on GP retention and recruitment, health minister Steve Brine said there is 'little wonder' that medical students don't want to follow GPs into the profession as they have become 'a counsel of despair'.

He added that 'positivity is very important' to attract new recruits, citing RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard as a 'a brilliant example of the cup being half full'.

His comments come after workforce numbers continue to decline with the latest official figures revealing that 219 full-time equivalent GPs left the profession between September and December last year.

Mr Brine told MPs: ‘There are things that we can do but I would also say that there are things that the profession can do too and if doctors in general practice are a counsel of despair then little wonder that people don’t want to follow them into it.’

He added: 'I think there are some really good positive voices in general practice, ably led by Helen Stokes-Lampard, who is a brilliant example of the cup being half full. That kind of positivity is important so it is a partnership.'

Mr Brine's comments come after Professor Stokes-Lampard previously advised GPs not to 'vent on your juniors', adding that 'it’s destructive and unhelpful'.

Readers' comments (49)

  • Come on GPs stop complaining. A few patients in the morning and afternoon. No out of hours work. 4 hour lunch break. Half days and protected time for study. All for 250K! Plus an amazing pension.

    I can't understand why 4 doctors have left the practice in the past 6 months and we have had zero response for replacements. Well I see "we" when I should say "me". Hmm 12000 patients and just me to look after them. Time to hand in the keys.

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  • Council of Despair

    'council of despair' sounds like a rebel organisation in a star wars movie - cue star wars theme.

    i'd be happy to be a member of the 'council of despair' it sounds cool.

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  • Must be blissful to be so ignorant

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  • Prof Stephenson [ Yes, him !!] said Medicine is like soldiers going to war. Prof HSL may disagree, but actually it is worse, because soldiers get periods off duty and most of their lives are not at war.
    We are at war with workload everyday. Last time, I was there for 14 hours and my eyes were beginning to mist over, looking at Lab results at 2145.
    And Manslaughter charges if I make a mistake.
    No, Minister, don't be a doctor in the UK and certainly not a GP, But I am not sure hospitals are better, ig like poor Dr BG, you land covering 4 doctors and get convicted of Manslaughter.

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  • This secratry or who so ever is this should be sacked for such comments.
    HSL , I dont even know what she does , my only relationship with rcgp is that I pay their fee and her salary.

    I cant see the light yet.

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  • AlanAlmond

    Steve Brine: Career outside of politics
    After graduating (history), Steve worked as a radio journalist spending time at BBC local radio and in Chicago. He has also worked in business and has experience in consultancy, marketing and publishing.
    FFS, seriously FFS. I went to medical school for 5 years then spent another 5 years working as a junior Dr in hospital before I became a GP which I’ve been doing for the last 10 years and this ar£e wipe thinks he’s got something he can tell me about my job. FFS!!

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  • AlanAlmond

    Maybe he did a project at university on American politics, then spent a few years playing 80s tunes on local radio in Norwich and Chicago before returning to the U.K. to learn how to put together a TV advert to sell ice cream. Perhaps he spent some time writing about supermarket openings in his local news paper or a national red top. All perfect preparation for a move into politics running the National Health service with a side line in general wise and worldly life advice to busy poorly informed pessimistic GPs. Truely we have top talent at the helm of our national institutions and a water tight mechanism to ensure only the brightest and most appropriate individuals get to where they are needed. Thank god for the likes of Alan Partridge, local radio, media and marketing, the white hot incubator of so much of our national talent.

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  • The RCGP repeatedly make life worse for the rest of us on the front line, but people still keep paying the fees. Please, it's optional, just stop paying them.

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  • Ok let's have some positivity. I probably have the best GP experience given that I work in a fully staffed rural practice. Do I enjoy my job? Honest answer is that I do not know. Some days are good, these tend be the half days with a manageable work load. Some days are miserable with an unsafe volume. The main problem is the constant nagging fear of mistakes and external interference. I do enjoy being self employed, though of course we are not truly independent like my tradesmen friends. Would I do it again, probably not.The job has the potential to be improved but we must end the 10 minute slots, new ways to improve earning potential are needed as well as a degree of legal protection. Without this, I would advise students to steer well clear.

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  • To quote a respected colleague -

    "Being a GP is a great job. Reasonable patient expectations. Great relationships with secondary care colleagues. Appropriate access to relevant investigations. Good control over my workload. Satisfaction with my remuneration. Yes being a GP is a great job. In Canada."

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