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This has to be done

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Traditionally, the December editorial is a chance to take a light-hearted look back at the year, poke fun at ministers and health leaders, wish everyone a merry Christmas and look forward to the following year.

That doesn’t feel apt after what has been a truly horrific year. Everyone has lost someone or knows someone who has lost loved ones, friends, colleagues. As well as the mounting death toll, there are the other harms caused by this new world we are living in. Deteriorating mental and physical health, job losses, rising domestic abuse, people plunged into poverty, widening health inequalities, the extra stress felt by pretty much everyone, and so on.

GPs have seen and felt all the effects of it. Pulse has posted tributes to the dozen GPs who have died from Covid. We know GPs are suffering the effects of long Covid through having faced higher viral loads. We’ve seen the frustrations of inadequate PPE, of isolating due to problems with testing, of the fiasco around shielding, and of the many other things that have gone wrong and been left to GPs to sort out. 

And, in case it’s forgotten, GPs are humans who, like everyone else, are missing family members, and missing the little comforts in life that, with your workload, you need as much as anyone. 

Of course, many of these frustrations can be put at the door of ministers. They’ve faced a hugely demanding task, but even with that proviso they have failed miserably.

But they can’t be blamed for everything. Even with far more competent leaders, we would have seen large numbers of deaths and most of the other insidious effects listed above.

And now it looks like we have a vaccine, and GPs are being asked to do the near-impossible.

It should go without saying that leaders should back general practice with financial and moral support, sticking up for GPs when they are subject to attacks – and not only when avoiding questions about what resources they are providing. And the debt society will owe GPs when this is all finished must never be forgotten.

It’s almost certain this is all wishful thinking. Pulse will keep the focus on this, highlighting the unfairness of the enhanced service and the great work GPs are doing, and fighting negative press. Nevertheless, GPs have been given the worst of all Christmas presents.

You of course know all the above. But I wanted to underline it because I am going to do something I have rarely done in this role: go against the majority of our readers.

Despite the huge problems with a Covid vaccine campaign, I can’t help but agree with the LMC leaders in our cover feature: this has to be done.

True, it is easy for me to say. I’m not the one having to deal with the logistical nightmare, or potentially work on Christmas Day – probably at a loss.

But this isn’t a gratuitous reorganisation or an inspection regime that just means extra work. This is extra work, but it’s as far from pointless as you can get.

I know the prospect is overwhelming. But it’s the only way out of this mess. And, to be frank, you and your teams are the only ones we can trust to do this.

Jaimie Kaffash is editor of Pulse. Follow him on Twitter @jkaffash or email him at This piece originally appeared in the December issue of Pulse.


Azeem Majeed 25 November, 2020 11:50 am

Many thanks for your support for general practice Jaimie.

Vinci Ho 25 November, 2020 4:39 pm

All I would say is , thank you .
And as I wrote before , forget about the enhanced service as a service , this is a mission ,whether we like it or not, simply because the government had f**ked up in big time .
Only history will judge us and this government……….

Paul Attwood 26 November, 2020 4:29 pm

I think the relative “silence” in the reply to this article speaks volumes.

Paul Hartley 29 November, 2020 10:25 am

Well said!

David Jarvis 30 November, 2020 7:13 pm

We all know it must be done and many are willing to work the hours needed to vaccinate en masse. But that vocation is persistently abused by HMG with pitiful amounts of money potentially leaving GP’s paying for the privilege. They seem happy to throw money at everybody but GP’s. When you see someone making millions on the back of PPE contracts because of poor preparedness the vaccine delivery seems to be an afterthought. And one of the best locations locally for a mass vaccination we cannot use because it has carpets on the floor.

Patrufini Duffy 1 December, 2020 9:04 pm

Pulse has given us news before the Government did. And been a forum for free thinkers. That’s worth a true clap.

Malcolm Ridgway 3 January, 2021 11:23 am

I agree with you – this is the chance for GPs to save many lives and arguably the country. These situations arise rarely and certainly no more than once in a working life. Even if no-one thanks you (suspect many will) you will have the satisfaction that you have done something really great. Of course you help people every day but this on a much bigger scale.