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‘This will disproportionately affect GPs unless we get safeguards’

Dr Paula Newens

Dr Paula Newens

The new junior doctor contract will disproportionately affect GP trainees unless we get safeguards. The numbers of people wanting to go into GP training have plummeted, in part due to the bad treatment, publicity-wise, of GPs. GPs are the backbone of the NHS but no single part of the NHS can work without any other part: we rely on hospitals, hospitals rely on us.

I never signed up to be a GP with the expectation that things would always stay the same, because medicine innovates and moves on, but I am concerned that it’s changing for the worse. Patients could be left really vulnerable because of massive understaffing or staffing by locums, which doesn’t give continuity of care.

While I agree with making the NHS as efficient as it can be so we get the maximum for patients for the minimum cost, there’s a point when cutting costs crosses over into being dangerous.

GPs have a choice to work abroad and have better working conditions; I feel angry because there seems to be a lack of appreciation and understanding of the stress and the challenges we face.

Interestingly, with the press covering the protests, I’ve received unprompted comments from patients and neighbours about how much they really appreciate what we do.

Without swearing, my message to Jeremy Hunt would be: take a really hard look to understand the nitty gritty of our day-to-day job, and then you’ll see why we’re demonstrating.

Dr Paula Newens is a GP registrar in east Kent