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All doctors are equal, but some are more equal than others

All doctors are equal, but some are more equal than others

Dr Carter Singh says that the recent pay award for hospital doctors shows how GPs are perceived by ministers

The announcement of the pay award for some doctors is yet another kick in the teeth for the GP partnership model. Why should GP partners fund the pay awards for salaried GPs out of dwindling funds, which are being diverted from front-facing provisions? Surely these awards should be centrally funded and cost neutral to struggling small business owners, such as GP partners.

Don’t try to convince me that partners are adequately positioned to fund the pay increase because we were awarded a multi-year pay deal. I refuse to collude with this misleading narrative: a deal implies that this was an agreement between two or more parties for mutual benefit, but, sadly, any consultation with our profession’s representatives seems to be nothing more than patronising virtue signalling. Our negotiators democratically collate opinions by grassroots GPs from conferences and large-scale surveys, and all too often, these valuable insights are ignored or rejected. The political will is unilaterally imposed upon us, irrespective of what is best for the profession and patients.

In their eagerness to win over public opinion by generating headlines about pay awards for doctors, the politicians’ actions are financially punishing and decimating the trust that is ingrained in the fabric of the partnership model. I like to think that these assaults are the unintended consequences of ill-informed policymakers who have little understanding of general practice; however, given the relentless frequency and the devastating impact of the insults on our profession, it seems unlikely.

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The mainstream media attack GPs daily, portraying them as work-shy, overpaid fat cats. This negative rhetoric has caused irreparable reputational damage and contributed to the fall in public-satisfaction ratings. Which other highly trained, reputable professionals must continually justify their income and their worth? Why is it acceptable for GPs to be repeatedly used as the whipping boys who are held responsible for systemic failures and chronic underfunding? Why is it that the finger of blame is pointed at the people who are working flat out on the front line to solve problems that are not of their own making?

GPs have never worked harder at the expense of their wellbeing. Yet, they have been accused of being closed during the pandemic. If that were true, it would be hard to explain how we rolled out the biggest vaccination programme in history and deliver more GP appointments than ever before.

Gone are the days when the number of hours or days worked were worn as a badge of honour. There is no honour in the graveyard where overburdened doctors (and their patients) who worked unsafe hours ended up. The workforce and workload crisis has resulted in GPs having to work unacceptably long hours to cram in as much activity as possible to meet insatiable demand.

In fact, GPs work more than so-called full-time hours but are being repeatedly mislabelled as part-time. These derogatory, oversimplified and misleading narratives need to stop if there is any chance in resurrecting our profession from the depths.

Dr Carter Singh is chair of Nottinghamshire LMC and a GP partner



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

Darren Cornish 23 August, 2022 11:00 am

GP’s need to collectively refuse the contract. Get the surgeries to join together to threaten and seriously threaten to give the contracts back to the health boards collectively across the entire UK.

Jamal Hussain 23 August, 2022 11:55 am

Darren has half a point. Practices can threaten all they like but they won’t be take seriously. So it’s pointless. At the moment if that was the threat coming from every LMC I would laugh.
“Sun Tzu said Know the enemy and know yourself in a hundred battles you will never be in peril. When you are ignorant of the enemy but know yourself, your chances of winning or losing are equal. If ignorant both of your enemy and of yourself, you are certain in every battle to be in peril.”
The GP profession doesn’t have the stomach or the heart to go through with going the way of the dentists and privatising the profession. With so few GPs and such high demand this is the best time to do it before they bring in the fake doctors with their internet degrees they got with distance learning. Choosing to act is a choice. Choosing not to act is also a choice. The attitudes of the profession have brought it to its knees. You can say I’m victim blaming. I say you’re choosing to be the victim and you have arrived here by your own choices.

Cameron Wilson 23 August, 2022 4:18 pm

Individual GP’s certainly don’t have the stomach for a fight, they’re just walking. That is a reflection not on the Government who are quite focussed on their goal of dismantling the Primary Care Model, and the Partnership Element in particular.Together with their erstwhile allies they have more or less succeeded. Rather, it is a reflection on the BMA’s forlorn stand in failing to have a Plan B, which didn’t have to be a heartless, profit driven alternative. I am aware some would say that we would have been doing the Governments dirty work for them, however, the alternative seems to be do nothing and get imposed whatever comes our way. I don’t want a fight or industrial action. I want Professional Autonomy within a civilised system, and this seems impossible with the current setup. Surely, we could come up with a better alternative than leaving it to the sound bite, light weight Politicians!

Patrufini Duffy 24 August, 2022 4:12 pm

Divide and rule is coming to haunt the UK. In all sectors. Catastrophically.

Decorum Est 25 August, 2022 2:39 pm

Winter is coming and it’s likely to be harshest in living memory. The PROBLEM may/may-not be resolved naturally in due course?

David jenkins 29 August, 2022 9:37 am

Darren Cornish

in wales health is devolved. effectively, this means it’s a smaller ship, and therefore easier to manoeuvre. in prestatyn, a few years ago, all the doctors in one town did precisely as you suggest, and handed in their contracts on the same day. the welsh assembly’s response was “we’ll just get some locums in”. then they discovered that no self respecting locum would work for them under those conditions. it didn’t take them very long to start saying “please” and “thankyou” once again, but the damage was done, and the cost of running a “managed” (i prefer “mismanaged”) practice in wales, (and there are dozens), is about 75% higher than a practice run by partners. google it if you don’t believe me.

trust me – i work in both – and the “managed” practices are much less efficient. examples include broken microwave that hasn’t been replaced because the bean counters (who don’t work in the building) are trying to find the cheapest model (cost less than a tankful of petrol); broken fridge – same scenario. i could go on and on and on and on………but it’s a nice sunny day here !!!