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It’s just too easy for us to blame others for the GP crisis

Dr Pete Deveson

Dr Pete Deveson BLOG duo_3x2

It is with great regret that I must inform my GP readers that yet another item has been added to the near-infinite list of things that are All Your Fault.

Much like the preposterous line that any attempt to point out the folly of the Brexit goat rodeo we’re heading towards is ‘talking the country down’, we learned this week from Health Minister Steve Brine MP that the ‘counsel of despair’ emanating from the nation’s GPs is the cause of our current recruitment crisis.

Yes, it’s the classic school bully ‘why-are-you-hitting-yourself’ move straight from the Nelson Muntz playbook. It was bad enough when we had this victim-blaming nonsense from our own RCGP chair (whose ‘positivity’ was, almost inevitably, singled out for praise by Mr Brine) but to hear it from a minister of the very Department of Health that is doing so much to make GPs’ working lives unsustainable really takes the biscuit.

Now I’m aware that by simply by writing this blog I lay myself open to ministerial accusations of proving his point for him; certainly with every embittered keystroke I can feel the Counsel-Of-Despair-O-Meter ratcheting up towards the critical zone.

Not one MP mentioned GP income has dropped year-on-year for more than a decade

Well, I’m sorry; perhaps if I was an academic-GP-cum-politician commuting first class from homeopathic levels of patient contact on the mandatory subs of a dwindling band of trainees I might find it easier to portray Primary Care 2018 as a land of milk and honey, but I feel we have a moral duty to tell it how it is.

The fifty-something generation above me are serenely heading westwards in droves towards the undying lands of early retirement, and I should make out to the halflings coming through to replace them that Sauron’s a pushover? Not gonna lie, I still enjoy my job and there are many reasons to recommend it, but pretending they’re not outweighed by the negatives at the moment would be like making a copy of that videotape in The Ring that kills you if you don’t pass it on to show in the VTS training afternoon.

Mr Brine’s comments may have grabbed the headlines, but the most depressing aspect of this story for me went almost unnoticed. His ‘counsel of despair’ remark came at the close of a parliamentary discussion about recruitment and retention of GPs, and during that ninety-minute debate not one MP mentioned the fact that GP income has dropped in real terms year-on-year for more than a decade.

Call me a negative ninny if you must but don’t you think that might have just a teensy-weensy bit of relevance to the problem at hand? Oh shucks, there I go, talking the profession down again. Sorry Steve, I’ll try harder in future.

Dr Pete Deveson is a GP in Surrey

 

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Readers' comments (10)

  • Spot on, Pete. If we did what this Brine person wants and had some great conspiracy of silence about this stuff, wouldn’t it be kind of... morally wrong? Or does he just want us to convince ourselves all is well with some feat of self-hypnosis? (Of course, that is what some people in government are doing all the time, I suppose. Maybe they have mandatory courses in Ignoring Evidence. That could explain a lot.)

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  • ''...an academic-GP-cum-politician commuting first class from homeopathic levels of patient contact..''
    Brilliant description of the RCGP donkey club Pete.

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  • ...like rubbing salt water into wounds...

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  • Vinci Ho

    I would look at this from a different angle :
    (1) The level of experience and the standard of sustaining a sound argument for some of these junior ministers , is quite frankly , very poor . Giving an insouciant statement in public , for some of them , has become a social norm . This is in contrast to the old , calculated and cunning old-fox veterans . Examples are ample , accusation of Uncle C as a Czechoslovakian spy during the Cold War followed by embarrassing apology. Not to mention all these cock-ups , one after another , from the foreign secretary . If I was one of those old-fashioned backbencher MPs or die-hard Tory supporters, my head probably fell off after shaking continuously so many times . Auntie May is well conscious of this and desperate to win ‘hearts’ over , especially for the final countdown to the Brexit deadline.
    (2) That leads to my point of view in recent comments; whether it is the government or the Labour Party (as I addressed in my recent long comment as a response to the shadow health secretary ), they need GPs more than we need them.
    (3) The blame on some of us moaning about the state of general practice as a reason to stop youngsters joining us , is essentially an old argument. Even th college has to backtrack a bit to avoid exasperation from frontline grassroot GPs . My advice to these junior ministers is : please do your homework and examine the current political circumstances carefully before you open your gob, mate .
    Otherwise , I ‘welcome’ more of these imbecile, lazy and poorly reasearched comments in the public .

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  • Elephant in the room- "GP's pay to double to maintain safe effective population healthcare".
    Practices using complementary medicine techniques like Homeopathic drugs drop antibiotic prescribing by 22%.
    http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/8/3/e020488

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  • I thought whistle blowers were guaranteed
    protection.
    We are all complaining we are working in unsafe clinical circumstances and it’s getting worse
    Patients are suffering and possibly there are hundreds of unnecessary deaths in the uk
    Conditions. Workload and stress are the issues
    However we need to be paid appropriately as well and reducing income in times of doctor shortages just adds to the problem.
    Enough is enough time for change and for us to demand safe workload and sustainable work conditions

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  • It’s just too easy for us to blame others

    Exactly - credit where it's due!

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  • GMC says we have a duty of candour. Now that reflections are to be used as ammo, we should find other ways to publicise the failings of the NHS. Talking our job down is fine. It IS crap.

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  • Pete Deveson is correct in his analysis. GP Recruitment will only increase again when resources and pay increase above inflation. NO Sign of that anytime soon.

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  • 'but pretending they’re not outweighed by the negatives at the moment would be like making a copy of that videotape in The Ring that kills you if you don’t pass it on to show in the VTS training afternoon.'
    I couldn't stop laughing when I read this part.

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