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Putting GPs’ problems in perspective

Last week I watched ‘The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka' by Jon Snow on Channel 4.

The BMJ has published a number of items sent in by medical colleagues from Sri Lanka, detailing their concerns that UN regulations were being contravened and that hospitals and doctors were being bombed and targeted. They bravely kept to their posts and continued their work as best as they could.

When I go to work each day I expect a great many things, but certainly not to be shot at or bombed.

I was born and brought up in Sri Lanka. I know the government is economical with the truth, and have been following events closely.

People like me from well-off, middle-class, Sri Lankan families invariably find a way out. There will always be a plane or a train for us. I have contacts and there is no way I would be found beaten, raped, murdered and dumped in a truck.

I could have gone to Sri Lanka to help, and many medical colleagues did. They clearly ‘had a calling'. I however, have relatively young children, a sick elderly mother, and a number of other reasons why I cannot do this.

In one scene at the so-called hospital a man is sitting on the floor gently caressing his 14-year-old son's head. He runs his fingers through his hair and over the small of his back, just as I do to my boy, when he is sleepy and lets me.

They have been air-raided by government troops and his son is bleeding to death. The good doctor can only offer words of comfort; he has no facilities, no medicines and no blood transfusions to give.

When I sit in my surgery contemplating QOF points and the minor irritations of general practice, it is easy to underestimate our value and skills.

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