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GPs ‘playing golf’ remark was a joke, says commissioning board chair

The head of the NHS Commissioning Board Professor Malcolm Grant has said his comment earlier this week about GPs being ‘out playing golf’ was intended to be ‘light-hearted and humorous’.

Professor Grant told delegates at the NICE conference in Birmingham on Tuesday that a ‘profound cultural change’ was required across the NHS, and cited the story of a woman whose cost to the NHS had been cut from £9,000 to £6,000 because of better organised care.

He claimed her GP had been ‘out playing golf’, but was now making regular visits, reducing the cost of care.

GPs responded angrily to the remark, with many leaving comments on PulseToday.

Dr Tom Inskip, a GP in Bedford, said:‘I am a GP who works five days a week as well as for our out-of-hours service – my average working week is 55 hours. Playing golf less than once a week is my way of staying sane. Does he want me to burn out even earlier? It is a cheap jibe looking for easy laughs from an uninformed audience.’

Dr Sanjeewa Sumathipala, a GP in Gloucester, said: ‘Although he is entitled to his opinion, it does not does allow for an ex cathedra statement about the GP golf player stereotype. I am sure he means well, but where is his evidence?’

But Professor Grant told Pulse today the remark had been meant as a joke.

‘It’s unfortunate that what was intended as a light-hearted and humorous comment has been taken quite so seriously,’ he said. ‘I would hope that the vast majority of GPs took the comment in the spirit in which it was intended.’