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The waiting game

How Uncle Jeremy stole Christmas

Dr Zoe Norris

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‘LOL dolls in stock NOW at Argos!!!’ the WhatsApp message flashed up on my phone mid-way through morning surgery.

I wondered why it was funny that dolls were available in Argos, but a brief scan of the replies from my school mums group made me realise it wasn’t that, but the name of a particular doll. Bemused, I asked what they were.

‘Little dolls that come wrapped up in a ball. The kids unwrap them and each layer has a little accessory or surprise, then the doll is in the middle. Like pass the parcel. They are THE toy this Christmas!’

It dawned on me if the other mums were whipping themselves into a frenzy about these dolls, then as the mum to two daughters, I was probably way behind the pack. A quick google search later, and I found the horror that is a video on YouTube with 4 MILLION VIEWS of two girls sharing their delight whilst unwrapping one of these must-have toys. As I watched their excited, American faces and heard the squeals of excitement ‘Oh they are sooooo cute!!’, it hit me. This is the little girl equivalent of the GP Forward View.

Inside our much anticipated gift is simply an underwhelming, over-hyped, disappointment

We have longed for and waited for a gift for general practice. Things must improve soon. It all goes in cycles. We are overdue a helping hand. All the promises came to fruition when the masses of funding in the GPFV was announced with a flourish. Daring to hope, over the last 18 months we have unwrapped each glossy layer at a time.

The first layer gave us the promise of an extra £2.4 billion into general practice by 2021. Excitedly, we peeled back the next one.

Investing in GP buildings – another win. Maybe this is really what we have been asking Santa for every year since 2004.

Another layer goes in the bin, and unveils workload reduction. This is it!!! The gift that keeps on giving!

Frantically, we tear open the next layer, resilience funding. More doctors – we squeal at a pitch only audible to the family dog.

But the more doctors layer has some small print – 10,000 new staff, 5000 will be GPs. (Maybe. If we can recruit them. Which is unlikely but which we won’t admit.)

And suddenly we start to feel like Santa may be a Daily Mail reader…

The next layer talks about care redesign, extended hours; the one after lists the hoops needed to get any of the funding, and the penultimate one, the caveat that despite promising this funding, there’s no intention to spend it all. None whatsoever.

We are onto the final layer. Inside, nestles the present we have wished and dreamed for – the shiny future of our profession that will make us forget all the pairs of socks, pot pourri and household appliances we have been given by other people. This is the big one.

But like little girls across the world on Christmas day, inside our much anticipated gift is simply an underwhelming, over-hyped, disappointment. A cheap plastic doll, and a pile of mass produced promises that won’t be fulfilled and will have been broken completely by the New Year.

As we watch our foolish hopes vanish to nothing, our gift giving Uncle Jeremy gives us a beaming smile.

‘Do you like it? Isn’t it fabulous!!

It’s taken us 18 months, but now, it’s time for a really, REALLY loud tantrum.

Merry Christmas.

Dr Zoe Norris is a GP in Hull


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Readers' comments (6)


    We are still waiting for the promised crown indemnity for gp's ....
    Too many broken promises = trust lost

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  • Humbug....real stuff starting to happen in my patch....maybe you haven't noticed resilience money, CQC fees, indemnity subsidy, clinical pharmacists, time for care programme, GP Health etc

    Not suggesting you don't keep up the pressure Zoe, as that's what you Pulse bloggers do, but play fair and provide balance.

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  • David Banner

    Re Dr Get-real

    Always good to see a little optimism, but in the name of balance.......

    -resilience money?? Errr, nope
    -CQC fees - this is like being told you will no longer be charged for being repeatedly kicked in the balls.
    - indemnity subsidy - a quick fix payment that will be dwarfed by the eye watering rises in the pipeline, and the govt "national scheme" kicked into the long grass, whilst MDU half price deal not water tight.
    - clinical pharmacists - in a couple of years you'll either lose them or stump up from your own pocket.
    - time for care programme - well this has been a roaring success, notice how it has freed up 10% of your time? No, me neither
    -GP Health - ok, fair dinkum, once we're all burnt out and ready for the asylum we can access counselling. Cheers!

    Look, 5yr FV promised a decent pay rise (first in a decade) and a reduction in spiralling workload whilst solving the workforce crisis. But all the money has been squandered on daft short term vanity projects with more hoops than a tin of spaghetti. The impact on GP partners has been negligible.

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  • Re David

    2100 practices helped by resilience money including mine
    CQC fees - ask a care home provider if they think we got special treatment!
    Indemnity subsidy based on average increase across MDOs - so winners and losers - suggest you shop around. If they simply paid uplift for all MDOs would all raise their prices more.
    500 clinical pharmacists out there and another 500 coming this year - your job to point them at substituting your lower value appointments and given 3 year subsidy to get there (albeit reducing)
    My observation is Time for care programme works if you get past defaulting to cynicism
    And sad to see such huge uptake of GPH but at least we have a service unlike other clinicians

    Agree workforce a massive issue but die was cast well before current mob who are trying hard to reverse were involved.

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  • Vinci Ho

    Nigel , can we have some figures or surveys amongst colleagues up and down the country who have experienced real , helpful changes because GPFV is materialising ?

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  • Vinci Ho

    Declaring interests , I am not a blogger in anywhere including PULSE.
    May the force be with you .

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