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Respecting diversity and GP individuality

I wonder what Dr IGV James had in mind when he said 'the new breed of nine-to-fivers in our profession will send us on a hiding to nothing ­ sadly the diversity and individuality of general practice doesn't seem to matter any more' (Letters, February 9).

The vision he describes of providing your own on-call with your spouse as your triage nurse is hardly the utopian future many doctors dreamed of when they entered medical school. While I admire his dedication, the implication that only by providing such a service can one truly appreciate the diversity and individuality in general practice is astonishing.

The days when patients could expect their own doctor to attend to their needs 24 hours a day seven days a week have finally gone, and with it the work-life balance of doctors has become a valid topic of discussion and study. Research suggests GP non-principals are the happiest doctors as they get nearest to getting the balance right.

There is nothing wrong with working as a GP from nine to five or even, dare I say it, part-time. The most individual and diverse doctors I know work as portfolio GPs with clinical practice being but one, though important, part of their lives.

Dr Peter Scholten

GP Registrar

Bury St Edmunds VTS

I wholeheartedly support Dr IGV James's cry for the recognition of diversity in general practice (Letters, February 9). Due to recent illness and family commitments I now work as a part-time principal. Over the years I have worked full-time and half-time and I have done my own on-call (including police surgeon work) and been part of an out-of-hours co-operative.

I envy Dr James's family and his stamina. I will never again be able to be a full-time GP, doing my own on-call, and remain well. When Iworked full-time doing my own on-call not only did I not have a trained triage nurse at hand, I had no one at home to prepare a meal or even know that I had gone out in the middle of the night.

After my son was born I had to pay extortionate amounts of money for overnight childcare to cover the possibility that I could be called out at any time.

It is time for the profession ­ old breed and new ­ to stand together respecting our diversity and individuality.

Dr Alison Munns

Stevenage

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