Whenever I talk to non-medical people about my job, they always imagine the worst part about it is blood, gore, suppurating wounds, dead bodies and rectal examinations.
The reality is very different – it’s the red tape, bureaucracy and box-ticking that I loathe. Give me an infected rash to look at any time, over a spreadsheet.
Dealing with disease is what we do. What we’re trained to do and, in some cases, what we’ve always felt our destiny is. No, the very worst bit about the job for most GPs is the endless pointless paperwork.
This fact was highlighted recently in the national press when it became apparent that retired GPs, keen to help with the Covid vaccination programme in some capacity, were being put off by the prospect of having to undertake a sizeable amount of online training. This included fire safety and anti-terrorism modules.
Obviously, it hadn’t occurred to somebody in NHS England that it’s likely that the vast amount of statutory training we’re forced to do may have been one of the reasons they retired in the first place.
One of the few upsides to the Covid pandemic has been relief from CQC inspections and annual appraisals. The mere fact cessation of this enormously time-consuming and mostly valueless work has been lauded by the profession should have sent a clear message to those in power.
However, sadly, I would bet a sizeable sum that as soon as this pandemic is over, we will be back to pre-Covid levels of administrative nonsense.
One of the problems is that private profit-making organisations are making big bucks running online update courses for us to complete our ‘mandatory training’, with so much money involved there will be a lot of pressure to get ‘back to normal’ post-Covid.
What we need is our ‘leaders’ to stand up and point to the fact the suspension of CQC inspections and appraisal has not led to the world ending, and if we want a sufficiently staffed workforce of experienced GPs for the foreseeable future, they need to look carefully at the number of hoops they want us to jump through.
In short, leave us to focus on microbes, not being micromanaged.
Dr David Turner is a GP in west London