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At the heart of general practice since 1960

This 'undemocratic' slur on the GPC is not borne out by facts

I read the recent news story 'GP faces GMC for smacking three-year-old' with great anger at a system that treats its professions with such little regard.

As a wife of a GP I am well aware of the vulnerability of doctors and the tightrope they walk on a daily basis. Every time a doctor talks, advises, examines, diagnoses, treats a patient, etc, he or she is wide open to some form of retaliation.

While generally most patients are reasonable, there is a significant, and sadly growing, number of patients ready to whinge, complain or sue.

Simply being married to a GP, I live with a constant low-grade level of anxiety that quickly flares up whenever my husband relates any day-to-day problem he encounters. Having lived through spurious complaints made against him, I am well aware of the effects of a complaint – untold levels of stress, loss of appetite, disturbed sleep, a constant knot in the stomach, a generalised feeling of misgiving that only lifts after a protracted period, and an overwhelming desire to throw in the towel.

I have often suggested to my husband that he should retrain as a plumber. He would be better remunerated and people would welcome him with open arms when called to their homes.

I cannot imagine how the GP in the child-smacking story has kept going, being the subject of so many investigations. It must have seemed a surreal experience being investigated by the Child Protection Authority.

While not condoning the smacking of a child, her parents should have apologised to the GP for her behaviour rather than to resort to civil action. They are, no doubt, not motivated by any potential financial gain but are of the I-don't-want-this-to-happen-to-anyone-else brigade.

I wish the GP involved a speedy and positive end to this nightmare situation.

Alicia O'Brien

(GP's Wife)

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