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Independents' Day

If this is the bedrock no wonder general practice is sinking

Dr Pete Deveson

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One of your most important duties as a new health secretary is to find a fresh metaphor with which to express your admiration for GPs. This rhetorical device can then be deployed in lieu of funding, pay rises, promised new colleagues etc.

In the past, we’ve been the backbone of the NHS, the cornerstone of the NHS, and the jewel in its crown. Matt Hancock’s contribution is a real doozy; we’re now apparently the ‘bedrock’ of the NHS.

Well, yabba-dabba-doo. Although the foot-powered cars of the Flintstones do seem an apt metaphor for the make-do-and-mend funding status with which we’re struggling.

Bedrock though. Most people’s attitude to bedrock is to happily take it for granted and walk all over it, so I guess he might be onto something. Hancock debuted #bedrock in a pre-recorded video he sent to the RCGP conference, like when Hollywood stars get a BAFTA and can’t be arsed to make the flight. Considering he had found the time to pitch up in person at his new BFFs Babylon the other week, I was a bit disappointed he couldn’t even bring himself to at least Skype us, given that he self-projects as some kind of Weird-Science-meets-Donatello tech genius.

In terms of dignity, it made David Brent dancing look like the Tiananmen Square Tank Man

Bedrock aside, the health secretary reheated Jeremy Hunt’s 2015 promise of 5,000 new GPs and then Hunt’s 2017 pledge of state-funded indemnity. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Of course, the arrival dates for all this jam tomorrow keep being pushed ever-so-slightly into the future, like Achilles and the tortoise.

Meanwhile, the cloying presence of pharma sponsorship at the RCGP conference provided an incongruous backdrop for the happy-clappy opening ceremony, which featured possibly the most RCGP thing ever – an enforced singalong to an earnestly rewritten version of I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles). As one wag pointed out, it’s the first time The Proclaimers have been covered by the Cardigans.

I don’t embarrass easily; my working day involves asking people about their bodily functions and parts of shame in forensic detail, and I haven’t cracked a blush since that time I absent-mindedly referred a double amputee for a treadmill test. But this song – oh boy. You could feel centuries of amassed prestige evaporating out of the profession with every verse. In terms of dignity, it made David Brent dancing look like the Tiananmen Square Tank Man.

The video, which my Post Traumatic Cringe Disorder renders me unable to watch, is apparently out there on the internet if you’re looking for that last push to make you emigrate.

OK, it’s clear we can file this under Not Really My Cup Of Tea, and to be fair many other less curmudgeonly souls seemed to be enjoying themselves. But if this is the best the College can do to enthuse the profession, I fear the bedrock will continue to spring sinkholes.

Dr Pete Deveson is a GP in Surrey

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Readers' comments (7)

  • Entertaining as usual Pete.
    quite a few GPs are going to be walking/sailing/flying 12,000 miles on the strength of our tree hugging friends.

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  • I was at RCGP Glasgow in 2016 and I vowed never to return, the disconnect between the conference and reality at the GP frontline was stark, it was like a party political conference where everybody claps each other on the back and mutually congratulates each other for being excellent and GP as being wonderful place to be!
    Well it isn't!
    It could be!
    But it is not at present!
    I must say the pharmaceutical sponsorship really got to me as well and I didn't like it one little bit,
    So I promised never to return to the RCGP annual conference until it became relevant and meaningful to ordinary GPs and not just a happy-clap festival for an elite minority.

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  • Thanks Pete and ‘wag’ - brightened up a dull Monday.

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  • Thank you Pete - I did see a lot of tweets from the conference and many made me cringe - maybe I'm just getting too old, but can you imagine any other Royal College make such fools of themsleves?

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  • My last conference was the last Glasgow one- couldn't afford the time off this year. But I've only just stopped receiving the sodding nasal douching samples that I'm pretty sure my friend signed me up to for a laugh. Gave em to a mate. I think he still has them in his wardrobe. His sinuses are no better.

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  • I have watched the video of Mr Hancock and I am beyond impressed by his slick and unspliced delivery. His sincerity veritably oozes, like sh't through a colander. I for one am convinced that there has never been a better time to a GP- except in the future when its definitely going to be better.

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  • Totally agree. Pathetic attempt of a show of unity.

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