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The good life for a GP? Not any more

From Dr Phil Needham

Burton on Trent

Last year I wrote how life felt good, driving along in a Saab convertible, earning good money and able to say No to things like out-of-hours.

I encountered a fair bit of good-natured banter from colleagues who felt that I might be being a bit naive. Well, a year on, where am I?

The Saab, a Y reg, is looking a bit long in the tooth and no way can I afford the new model. As ever, the goalposts have moved so things that got points last year are now taken for granted and I have to do new things just to stand still.

I have the choice, in theory, to say No to difficult, dubious things like looking for depression among diabetics ­ but not without losing points and therefore prizes. I have to spend hours struggling to master Choose and Book and practice-based commissioning, again with little cash for doing so, and even less benefit to my patients.

With an effective pay cut this year, I have no alternative but to opt back into out-of-hours, sacrificing my recently won family life. Yes, folks, the rose-coloured specs have definitely come off!

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