We need to capitalise on the enthusiasm for general practice
Dr Matt Piccaver writes
From Dr Matt Piccaver, Glemsford, Suffolk
Doctors seem to be taking a bit of a battering at the moment - we’ve been accused of lacking vocation, not working hard enough and being a barrier to change. Junior doctors in England face a contract that may lead to lower pay for more work, staff are tired and demoralised, and hospitals are declared failures. The environment within the NHS is toxic.
As a profession we’ve been increasingly vocal in highlighting the plight of general practice. This means that medical students and junior doctors are all too aware of how we feel, and general practice seems a less attractive option.
But at the RCGP annual conference in Glasgow, there was a fightback. Professor Maureen Baker, RCGP chair, demanded that GP funding return to 11% of the NHS budget and Scottish health secretary Shona Robison provided assurances that junior doctor pay would not be cut, announcing a new GP contract with the winding down of the QOF.
The passion for general practice is still out there
And despite the anti-doctor rhetoric, the feeling at the conference was that people are still choosing to become a GP, and many of us are still passionate about our vocations.
Dr Emily Manning, a GP partner in Cambridgeshire who came from Canada to study medicine as a graduate and never left, told me it was ‘the most rewarding job’ she’d ever had. Dr Emma Gayton, a former academic endocrinologist, and new GP partner described the past year as ‘the best year in my entire career’.
The trainees are positive too. Dr Tim Sharp, an academic GP trainee, who left a job in the City to retrain as a doctor wanted to ‘help people along their life path’ and was passionate about helping provide high quality care within the NHS.
Meanwhile Daryl Newland, a fourth year medical student, said he was already interested in general practice which had done the most ‘to engage and support’ him beyond teaching.
Despite the portrayal of doctors as villains and the extreme challenges the NHS is facing, people are still choosing to become doctors, and still eager to go into general practice. While I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t look tired, the passion for general practice is still out there. Perhaps it’s time to capitalise on that renewed enthusiasm. Now all we need to do is convince a certain Mr Hunt.