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Dr Pamela Barcella: I'm not your superwoman

Dear Prime Minister…

Unlike you I am not famous; I don’t live in a rich city and don’t make newspaper headlines. You could probably say I am just a little anonymous nobody, like many other thousands of others living in the UK. I am just a simple GP, working in a quite provincial town in the East of England, where nobody comes unless they need to and where nothing extraordinary ever happens.

Originally I come from a little village in the north of Italy and Italy is where I trained to become a doctor. Twenty years ago I decided to come to London for six months work experience and I ended up doing my GP training here, getting married and having two lovely girls — so I never left.

I don’t know how a Monday morning is at 10 Downing Street but here, in the quite boring county of Suffolk, is the alarm clock going at 6.30 am followed by screaming of my girls hiding under the covers and refusing to go to school. After 20 minutes’ drive I get to the surgery where my clinic is almost already filled up.

You see, I am not sure you know, but we have only 10 minutes appointments to deal with our patients, with ANYTHING that may enter the door. Just this morning – Monday- I have to deal with a possible stroke and a quite certain DVT (clot in leg), a mother worried of her teenage daughter may be transgender and a patient that is contemplating going and buy a rope to the next hardware store to hang himself up. I don’t know you but I am not a superwoman. I don’t have the power to fix everybody’s problem, certainly not in 10 minutes. Above all when it takes me 15 minutes to get through a saturated hospital switchboard and the Mental Health Community services tells me they can speak with the suicidal gentleman only in 72 hours – as emergency response. You see they don’t have enough staff available or funding to get any more staff for the matter.

So my exhausting day passes by as above, with my few 20 minutes so called breaks engulfed by writing letters or looking at bloods results or – occasionally – running to the toilet as – even with all my will - I cannot suppress mother nature call.

What about lunch—you are kidding me right? At best is a salad gulped down in front of the computer – followed by Gaviscon to help with the heartburn.

And I am running late - again. My girls will have to wait at after school – again. I will be late for my eldest swimming club - again. Even she is tired of my excuses again. Homework in a rash and then bed. Another day is finished and all will start again tomorrow.

So Mrs May, don’t mind us small insignificant GPs. We don’t have a family, a life, loved ones. Keeps on telling us we don’t do enough and we should being doing more of what we extraordinary already do. I am sure that if you were in my little insignificant shoes you could do miracles. After all we all know you are a superwoman.

Dr Pamela Barcella is a GP in Suffolk

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