I’m a GP.
I’ve worked through the pandemic seeing patients online with video consulting, on the phone and face-to-face.
GPs have completely turned around how we work, despite risks to our own health, like other care workers.
In my spare time in the early days of the pandemic when we didn’t have enough PPE, I took matters into my own hands and sourced it, crowdfunding £4,000 to pay for it to be made, and delivered it with the help of my neighbours to local hospices, hospitals, care homes, physiotherapists, dentists and GP practices.
I also sourced treats for wellbeing bags for NHS staff and made up over 1,000 bags myself.
I ran 200 miles in ten days to raise funds for the homeless in my town, as they were so vulnerable, raising £4,000 to date.
I’ve delivered hot dinner parcels to intensive care units.
I’ve delivered hundreds of vaccines, in addition to the entire GP workforce who did the majority of this in their own time.
Demand on general practice was estimated to be beyond capacity, at over 157%.
As hospitals have worked flat out, they’ve had to discharge patients home early, relying on GPs to sort their long-term care.
We’ve looked after people in the terminal phase throughout lockdowns.
As the latest lockdown is lifted, we’re facing unprecedented demand with the assumption that Covid is gone.
No, Covid is still here, and I’m getting notification every day of positive cases.
We’re seeing unpreceded demand increase over the last few weeks, and demand has gone up even more, by another 20% on top of the earlier figure.
Hospitals have longer waiting times as they’ve been fighting a pandemic of huge proportion. Patients are frustrated with the waits and contacting GPs to get their appointments expedited. These letters from us achieve nothing.
I’ve never seen this number of complaints and anger from patients about the NHS service provision and general practice.
I’ve never been spoken to so aggressively – and I’m a pretty resilient person.
Our staff have worked above and beyond their job description, especially with the vaccination delivery – from phoning patients, booking people in and doing admin at clinics.
There’s been no respite for general practice. Many NHS staff have lost loved ones and struggle with the emotional impact the virus has had on us.
We’ve continued to do normal long-term care for our community, in addition to the extra demands of working in a pandemic and having to do lots of admin red tape work and jump through hoops set by NHS England to earn money to pay our staff wages and keep our businesses afloat.
The newspaper stories running about GPs being told by NHSE to resume normal service and do face-to-face appointments for all and finally getting back to work are frankly insulting.
I feel utterly let down by the patients who’ve expressed anger and vitriol to us.
I feel that NHSE’s statement about how it recommends GP surgeries to work going forward was reckless and ill thought-out. It contravenes the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the 2002 COOSH report, and puts patients, staff and the public at risk.
For this report to be interpreted in the media as it has, it makes me despair for the future of our profession.
It feels like NHSE doesn’t want GP practices to survive in its current or historic model.
I feel exhausted. I’m deeply concerned for the mental health of the GP community, from our cleaners to admin and nursing staff who practice managers try to keep going, day in, day out.
I love being a GP and a partner at work. I love seeing patients and getting to know them. I want to provide the best care.
But I want respect and the ability to treat patients in a safe way to protect both patients and staff.
The disrespect shown by NHSE, the newspapers and a minority of the public is soul-destroying.
Please appreciate how we’re having to work.
NHSE, be ashamed.
We’re not out of the time of Covid yet.
Above all else, be kind.
It’s just been Mental Health Awareness Week, after all.
From a very tired GP
Dr Siobhan Brennan is a GP partner in Stockport, Greater Manchester