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The Federation Game

Warnings from the RCGP that practices should ‘urgently' begin talks on working together more closely are nothing more than light entertainment, says Copperfield.

Those of you of a certain age, like myself, will recall a previous, pre-Strictly, version of Bruce Forsyth. Remember the Generation Game? Nice to see you, and all that?

Well, soon, Brucey could be hosting a new show: the Federation Game. Because, according to recent reports, we GPs are urgently going to have to federate or die.

Our reward, instead of a conveyor belt and cuddly toy, will be a huge love-in with local practices, responsibility for disciplining poorly performing doctors, the means to cope with the huge workload heading our way and a whole range of other responsibilities that have me frothing at the mouth.

My sialorrhoea has nothing to do with anguish or anger, though. It's caused by complete and uncontrolled hilarity – I'm literally dribbling with laughter. Here are ten issues I have with this headlong rush to the ‘corporate formula':

1. I don't really know what a federation is, in terms of general practice.

2. I've read all the stuff about federations in general practice and I still don't know what a federation is, in terms of general practice.

3. I understand the words ‘corporate' and ‘formula' in isolation and I understand that, together, they're another way of saying ‘federation', but that doesn't help me understand what a federation is, in terms of general practice.

4. I don't know anyone else who understands it, either.

5. Nor do I know any single GP who has even begun to start thinking about beginning to cogitate over even the slightest hint of forming the embryonic inklings of a federation of GPs.

6. GPs do not herd together well (I cite the ‘success' of PBC – an activity for which there are financial incentives).

7. A significant number of GPs working in any geographical locality may have previously worked together and now don't for any one of a number of reasons, each equally amusing when seen in the context of them getting all cosily federal again.

8. According to the RCGP great and good, we should have set up collaborative structures five years ago.

9. Despite ‘8' above, a toolkit to help us federate didn't appear five years ago. But the RCGP assures us it's coming out in the autumn.

10. The college is going to write to all 34,000 members this week asking what moves we've made to work collectively. Oh, ease my aching sides.

Basically, if it's really federate or die, we're all going to die. Or, to adapt an old Brucey catch-phrase: ‘Let's meet the eight who are going to federate.' I'd be surprised if there's that many.

'Sick Notes' by Dr Tony Copperfield is out now, available from Monday Books.

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