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Could GPs really be more despised than bankers?

By Steve Nowottny

Another day, another headline-grabbing article about ‘quids-in' GPs. But this time grassroots GPs have hit back

It's been a while since we had a decent spot of GP-bashing from the national newspapers – but if you've missed it, then Wednesday's Daily Telegraph came up trumps.

Off the back of the recent controversy on GP out-of-hours care – prompted in turn by the inquest into the Ubani case – Daily Telegraph columnist Liz Hunt was moved to ask: ‘Will we come to despise doctors as much as we despise bankers?'

It's an unwritten rule of journalism that the answer to any such rhetorical question is normally a resounding no – but in this instance, Liz Hunt goes to some lengths to argue the case.

In a column headlined ‘GPs must work for health, not wealth', she argues that the ‘infamous' 2004 contract was a ‘masterpiece of incompetence' in terms of getting value for the taxpayers' money. What's more, she adds, concerns over quality of care, highlighted by the widely-reported case of having two GPs on call for the whole of Suffolk, risk further alienating the public.

‘It is up to doctors themselves to seize the initiative – for the BMA to make a stand and turn this around,' she writes. ‘First do no harm is the profession's defining credo. If they insist on clinging to this lucrative deal, they will do a lot of harm to their own credibility.'

So far, so typical – but the doctors themselves have apparently decided to hit back. Scanning through the comments below, the indignation from GPs is palpable.

‘I most certainly did not go into my profession ‘to become rich',' says one.

‘Balderdash,' adds another. ‘I am a full time UK graduate GP and my PCT pays £70 per hour betwen 11pm and 8am, so with all the tax, NI and pension deductions it works out at about £30 in the pocket per hour.'

‘I sometimes wonder why I bother being a GP with some of the nutters out there...roll on retirement,' chips in a third.

Judging by the tone of many of the comments, in fact, it appears the columnist may have misjudged the mood of the Daily Telegraph's readership. But one commenter, Dr Jay Kuruvatti, offers a possible explanation.

‘Just out of interest Ms Hunt, have you ever previously worked for the Daily Mail?' asks Dr Kuruvatti. ‘I suspect you have, as your article has all the hallmarks of their esteemed brand of journalism.'

A quick Google search confirms he's not wrong. Doctor's intuition, you see...

The only thing GPs are interested in, apparently