This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

Read the latest issue online

CAMHS won't see you now

Maths made simple for politicians

Dr David Turner

50 million more appointments multipled by 10 minutes = 500,000,000 minutes.

Divide by 60 = 8,333,333 extra hours of GP time needed per year.

Assume an average full time GP working week of 50 hours (yes, I know we do more than that). 

50 multiplied by 46 weeks (sorry Matt, we do need some holiday) = 2,300 hours per year.

8,333,333 divided by 2300 = 3,623.

Yes 3,623 extra GPs - not to worry though, the Tories are promising 6,000, despite a Nuffield Trust report earlier this year showing a drop in GP numbers, from 65 to 60 per 100,000 of population from 2014 to 2018.

For the sake of argument, I’ll assume that some of these appointments are to be undertaken by nurses, physiotherapists and physician associates, and I'll also assume these healthcare professionals are all being held in animated suspension in a basement at Tory HQ, because they sure as hell aren't queuing outside our surgeries looking for work.

A health service for which any decent medical registrar would long ago have ceased resuscitation attempts

I’m no numbers genius, but I’m betting that I paid more attention in maths lessons at school than Johnson or Hancock, who presumably spent the lessons scratching rude words in Latin into their desks with the sharp end of their compasses.

Apart from the fact that the latest Tory party pledges quite literally don't add up, I'm left wondering who they think they're fooling. 

Nobody who works in the NHS, and I doubt any patient who's used the NHS recently, would be naïve enough to believe these pledges.

All the political parties are up to this, of course, in a desperate attempt to outbid each other in this pre-Christmas game of fantasy healthcare budget.

It matters little in the end, as whoever emerges victorious is going to have to face the reality of providing healthcare to an increasingly needy population, in the depths of the NHS' worst-anticipated winter, with a health service in cardiopulmonary arrest and for which any decent medical registrar would long ago have ceased resuscitation attempts.

Still, as Boris might say: ‘in spe vivimus’.

Dr David Turner is a GP in North West London

Rate this article  (4.43 average user rating)

Click to rate

  • 1 star out of 5
  • 2 stars out of 5
  • 3 stars out of 5
  • 4 stars out of 5
  • 5 stars out of 5

0 out of 5 stars

Readers' comments (10)

  • David Banner

    vae nobis

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Cobblers

    More like, "vivimus in stercore"

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • “spurius”

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • The maths is worse than your calculation suggests.

    A full time GP may work 50 hours a week, but doesn't provide 50 hours of actual appointments, when you factor in all the other things a GP does in their working week.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I'm sorry having now worked with AHCP it only increases GP work, as a lot of the actual decisions still get passed back to the GP. They key is to get all those many managerial GPs who pay themselves lots of money to sit around in stupid meetings back to the coalface where they belong, and deep down they know where they should be, but unfortunately they are still trying to locate their consciences

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Johnson : Biggus Dickus.
    Hancock : No translation needed.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Are these new GPs needed to suffer the continuing, continuous penance and punishment imposed by Mr Hunt ?
    if you punish people and impose penances and other hellish Heath Robinson hoops, why would you wish to increase their numbers ? I do not understand. If we are a failed, miserable lot that need a lot of punishment, they should be glad to see falling numbers of such abominations, unless of course they are masochists guised as health secretaries.
    There you have it, GP land is purgatory, bordering on hell.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Well said Dr kiekegaard but it is too easy to escape. Registrar tutorials, meetings to discuss how to deal with all the patients etc. etc. front line clinical decision makers need to be better rewarded than these low risk activities.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I'm sorry, the conversation from Johnson et al has so debased my expectations that I briefly thought that "spe" in "in spe vivimus" might be related to one of BJ's schoolboy slang vulgarities - "spaff". (It's not. It's "hope" - closer to French "éspère"

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Well then, I'm sure I don't have to point out that if you can't trust any politicians with running all of the health service, the free market and competition is the alternative.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say