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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Life IS a piece of shit, when you look at it

Copperfield

Har har har, that’s ironic, innit? Pulse blogger writes blog on how to get five stars and only gets two! And a bit rich criticising blog pics as stereotypical caricatures while her own is a standard kooky ‘Look, aren’t I fun?’ mugshot. Also, weird trying to accept life-lessons from a ‘leadership fellow’, whatever that is, who looks about 12.

That’s what some people might say. But not me, because I’m above that. Besides, I bet the number of readers who give a toss about Pulse interblog warfare is precisely zero.

The thing is, though, Dr Merrifield is right. Strip out the gratuitous sniping and you’re confronted with the valid point that many mainly older, mainly male GPs mainly blame everything but themselves for GP life being mainly shit. I’ve virtually made a living out of it.

But remember. Just as there are no heartsink patients – just heartsink doctors – there are no heartsink bloggers. If you’ve developed a Pavlovian gag response to the bellowings of Jurassic GP, consider not the effect it’s having on you, but why it’s happening in the first place.

Take me, for example. I’ve been a GP for 29 years. Yeah, I know, and I admit I’m drifting into a coma even as I write this. But bear with me. I’ve invested a lot of time, energy and emotion in developing a good practice, happy in the knowledge that I’ll be able to put pass the baton on, and that the job I hold dear will retain its essential values even while the surrounding landscape shapeshifts alarmingly.

But it doesn’t feel like that anymore. Practices are falling over. No one wants the commitment of partnership. New blood is nigh-on impossible to find, and those that do apply have a take-the-money-and-run mentality. Or, if you prefer the tired old wartime metaphor from a tired old frontliner, we’re shell-shocked, we need new recruits but we seem to be training mercenaries.

Apologies for defaulting to auto-apocalypse mode, but the result is that general practice as-we-know-it is falling apart. These aren’t the ramblings of a GP dement, and even if they are, it’s still true. And a big part of the problem is that the new generation of GPs who can stop this happening is increasingly seeing general practice as not something special and precious but as just a job. And that is what it’s in danger of becoming.

It feels like a diminishing number of GPs recognise this. And those that do feel increasingly marginalised, which is why we’re shouting louder and with increasing desperation.

Hence those blogs: don’t say we didn’t warn you, careful what you wish for etc etc. And by the way, blog success is judged by quantity of comments, not number of stars. So, har har har, you win.

Dr Tony Copperfield is a jobbing GP in Essex

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Readers' comments (8)

  • Fair comments. Although I don't blame the newbies for their different attitude to work.
    Over a period of time the job has been deliberately and methodically engineered into a piece of shit.
    And we all know by whom.

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  • but how can you not see it as 'just a job'?
    It has become 'just a job' that takes away all your time, energy, and your physical and psychological well being. On top of all that, you are paid much less for doing far more.

    Younger doctors of today see themselves as a resource that is mobile - and so move to places where they feel more valued.

    Gone are the old days of respect for doctors, or for the NHS - these days its all 'me, me, me..'

    I am only in my 4th year of being a GP, all of which has been spent as a partner, and I am very close to handing it all back - I cant do the hours, the incessant complaining from patients who 'know their rights' rather then their responsibilities, 'know their condition'far better then I apparently do, and for whom WE cant complain of when they come into our rooms, leaving us suffocating from their bodily odor/fag breath, and leave us with presents such as the flaking skin of their legs on the floor, let alone the bits of vomit etc.


    The job is a piece of shit, locuming is said to be great as you get paid a bit better, and have no responsibilities - thats because having the responsibility for something that you cannot do anything to improve without getting it in the neck from someone (no magic money tree, as theresa says).

    Im done, and a lot of my generation are.


    A lot of this has come about because our 'leaders' dont look at the profession as a whole but are more interested in getting their gongs, or setting up some self-serving project to make a quick bob or two - I dont begrudge them their livelihood but if they are supposed to be representative then they need to look at whats in the best interests of the profession as a whole - and it hasnt been done because no-one cares.

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  • QB-you make powerful points and a salutatory reminder for us all.

    It neednt have to come to this, but we've sleeped walked into this state of helplessness and dis-empowerment.

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  • Can anyone tell me why if our new leaders to be all think General Practice is so great that so many of them are clinical part-timers who prefer to be playing with their portfolio than seeing patients? Their words say one thing... their actions another..... If its so great why aren't they doing 10 clinical sessions a week????? I do..... can we insist on a 'shitometer' beside each contributors name which measures how much manure they pile through a week and how long they've been doing it for to see if my pet hypothesis is true.... i.e. the more you do, the more cynical you become.... a cause-effect analysis, a bit like smoking and pack-years.... and then track life expectancy accordingly :-)

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  • I agree with De Copperfied.
    I have been a GP for 34 years and planned to push through to 35 years.
    I always felt GP a complaining were just dissatisfied with medicine.
    I have retired and we have the GMS contract back to NHSE.
    I am very happy to spend 16 hours a week as a locum and have more control of my life, holidays etc.
    I am
    No worse off as I work through a limited company and no longer pay the extra tax penalty for higher earners - I already draw my pension -no NI and no micromanagement by others. I am no longer responsible for staff errors, omissions, sick leave etc.
    Perhaps not a long term solution for youngsters but an attractive option for a few years

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  • Can't imagine how it's possible to blame our so called "leaders" for anything. They have zero influence and due to huge diversity of ways of working and regional and practice circumstances they represent no one other than own practices. Who ever cared what RCGP had to say or about their so called standards that only work inside the minds of few cardigans doing 2-4 sessions a week? And as for GPC- they are against powerful machinery of DOH and NHSE and in real world Goliath usually wins. As stated in previous blog- what do we want?...

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  • Well, what exactly do you wish GPC/BMA to do?
    We are independent contractors, so we can hand back the Contract. That is about it.
    Contracts based on number of appointments or patients seen per day were voted out.
    So then, what exactly can GPC do?

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  • For supposedly bright people we are really stupid! Talky talky talky... I don't think that GMS partners are able to think clearly any longer: punchdrunk. Just make it stop NOW!

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