This site is intended for health professionals only

Government sows, GPs reap

Government sows, GPs reap

You might have seen that our old friend Matt Hancock has been banging the Government’s drum this week, on prison illiteracy of all things. I’m no expert on prison illiteracy, but I suspect the factors behind any increase are complex, and include things like a reduction in schools’ budgets, growing inequality, and a lack of job opportunities in some areas of society leading to disillusionment with education overall.

Yet Mr Hancock’s takeaway from all this was to hold prisons and prison officers accountable for the lack of education they are providing.

It is this kind of thinking that leads to public services being blamed for structural and funding problems. And this is a message that general practice knows all too well. The British Social Attitudes survey report this morning that satisfaction in GP services has plummeted is the culmination of this.

There are two thoughts that come to mind on this. First, that the satisfaction rates in this morning’s BSA survey are way lower than in the patient survey. This is illuminating for me. The BSA is more reflective of the wider population. But the patient survey is more indicative of those who matter – people who use GP services. This suggests that a lot of people that have low satisfaction with GP services are those whose opinions are formed through perception rather than personal experience. And I don’t blame these people – no wonder they have a low opinion of GP services considering the negative messages they receive.

But my second point is that this is inevitable (and there has also been a decrease in patient survey satisfaction scores). You stretch public services and they get worse. In the case of general practice, access suffers, GPs aren’t able to devote the time necessary with patients and everyone gets dissatisfied.

GPs should not be any more disheartened by these scores. If satisfaction rates remained as high as ever, it might show GPs to be superhuman but it would also give the Government the green light to continue cutting funding.

The sad thing is that it is GPs – and prison officers, teachers, etc – who reap what the Government sows. The only way to counter this is to keep giving the same message: that patient numbers are up, while GP numbers are down. We are all dissatisfied, but it shouldn’t be GPs carrying the guilt. 

Jaimie Kaffash is editor of Pulse. Follow him on Twitter @jkaffash or email him at



Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

Patrufini Duffy 30 March, 2022 3:40 pm

The elite and privileged dirty their hands of what will soon come knocking on their gilded door.

David Church 1 April, 2022 11:39 am

Well, we can *soon* sort this one out !

Standard school education is full time from age 4 to age 16, so the minimum term of imprisonment ought to be set at 12 years, and if any judges fail to ensure an adequate custodial term for full education, it is the Judges’ fault, obviously .