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Independents' Day

Election promises of more GPs are a cheap ploy

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Election time is upon us and the party manifestos are out. Once, I used to have a wide range of political interests. Defence, education, tax on beer – I cared deeply about these issues. Now (with the single exception that I hope we still have a navy in five years so my officer cadet son can have a job) the events and the stresses of the past 10 years have served to focus me on one thing only: what do they propose to do about the NHS, and general practice in particular?

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt started the ball rolling in fine style last week. Like a child babbling meaningless promises into the darkness for fear of losing his toys, he pledged same-day access to GP appointments for all over-75s. ‘We have a million more over-65s than we had five years ago’, he said, missing an excellent chance to thank us – in words at least, if not anything more tangible – for this remarkable feat. Apparently the extra 5,000 GPs he intends to supply will fulfil this ‘need’.

Well, I’ve checked the drawers of my desk, the wastepaper basket and the car-park and I just can’t find any of these new GPs. And given that we take 10 years to train, and no new graduates want to be GPs anyway, I’m guessing I won’t be seeing any next week or next year either. But promises are cheap, and promising more time and effort from other people, who are already stretched to the limit, is cheaper still.

Labour’s Ed Balls, for whom I have even less respect than for certain former Radio 1 DJs, won’t promise any funding for general practice. A rare example of honesty in a career of shameless dissembling. Nick Clegg and his Lib Dems, of course, can’t be trusted with a single bloody thing.

The Greens promise to make everything free – and they do seem to mean everything – including extra mental health and dementia services, a pledge cannily directed at their core voters. They’ll fund it with special magic pounds, one assumes.

UKIP may well have a health policy, but as it was almost certainly literally written on the back of a beer-mat by that moron Nigel Farage, I have not troubled to find out what it is.

Meanwhile, in the real world, my own practice is fragmenting at a rate I wouldn’t have thought possible only two years ago. Several departures have left me as the last partner standing in a practice that has two full-time equivalents, but needs five. Personally, I am drifting in and out of atrial fibrillation, and recently learned the true meaning of ‘panic attack’. It’s not nice.

I’m supposed to buy my partners out of their share of a £1m building and then become personally liable for the redundancy packages of 15 employees, should it come to that. An advert in the BMJ produced precisely no applicants for the partnership post; after all, who would voluntarily take this shit on?

Our position will be only too familiar to many practices. If we collapse, 8,000 patients will have to be registered elsewhere locally. No doubt Mr Hunt’s 5,000 new GPs will ride to the rescue.

Welcome, my new, enthusiastic, keen, and entirely fictional colleagues.

Dr Phil Peverley is a GP in Sunderland

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Readers' comments (21)

  • Feel for you mate!
    Look after your health first, Bollocks to the rest!

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  • GP land is falling apart wherever you look.

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  • " But promises are cheap, and promising more time and effort from other people, who are already stretched to the limit, is cheaper still."

    Especially love this line. Will be using it!

    Good luck to you Pev and all our other colleagues who are in this hellhole.

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  • No point being a hero,none gives a fig,look after yourself,your family and your health.Thinks arn't going to get better soon.The clock is ticking the end is nigh.

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  • Take early retirement. Money much the same as full time earnings as less tax/ expenses/ no more pension payments. I did this about a year ago. Got lots of thank you letters from patients, nice letter from BMA for my support over the years, but not a word of thanks from NHS. RCGP also no response.

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  • Just stop! You've more than done your bit. Good luck.

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  • Phil, I totally agree- it's time to look after yourself and to put your own health first. Few things (if any) are more important than health, family life and happiness. This job is not worth sacrificing yourself for.

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  • politicans have done this on purpose they despise GPS and want them exterminated to be replaced by something that costs nothing, probably they will round up slaves

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  • Anonymous | 28 April 2015 8:00pm

    "Take early retirement. Money much the same as full time"

    What a wonderful position to be in!!

    And when you've all deserted the sinking ship all your loyal staff can march down to the job centre and pick up a job in tesco's and work until they're 70!!!!

    And you all have the nerve to moan about the rich politicians?

    Self Self Self Self Self !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Caring profession my arse!!

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  • And I suppose GPs should all be saints and not care about themselves. I suppose the fact than Pev is still working in spite of the fact he could collect a good pension means he is in to S+M and just loves the abuse. I know lets blame GPs for not wanting to work the job of 3 for ever decresing take home pay when the government provides health care and is not providing it. Good will can only last so long.

    You cant look after others if you dont look after yourself. At the end of the day people work to earn a living to get satisfaction from a job well done and when you are no longer able to do the job properly due to underfunding and being understaffed as described the satisfaction goes and when theres stress ++ and no money either...

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