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Missing GPs found hiding under rock

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Just back from a walking break in Wales. And there, huddled under a rock on the amusingly named Fan y Big, I found 1,400 GPs. Despite shivering with cold and wet, and being forced to live on sheep-pats and dank Welsh fresh air, they said they were happier there than at the GP coalface. And they begged me not to reveal their location (Lat 51.848986, Long -3.371869).

So it was no big surprise to arrive home to find that Hatt Mancock has finally admitted that the Government’s pledge of 5,000 more GPs by 2020 is a tad off target, that ‘tad’ being more than 1K less than when the pledge was made.

He knows this because, apparently, Jeremy Hunt (remember him?) said so, and he’s talking to Simon Stevens (remember him?) about what to do – which is a nice retrospective and prospective distancing from the issue, albeit understandable because downloading 5,000 GPs is one of the few things that apparently can’t be achieved by the jabbing of an enthusiastic digit at an app.

The conclusion is that the new target date for the GP cavalry is, er, precisely when Mr Hancock knows it will happen, and not a day later. But we need not fear, because Professor Lord Darzi (you most certainly do remember him) has a potential solution, and he has a track record of those.

People will reminisce about GPs and recall that, actually, they did a pretty good job

This time, according to an article he wrote in the Times recently, it’s about nurses being able to do 70% of a GPs work, and more specifically, making them the new gatekeepers of the NHS. Yes, that’s right, nurses who, in terms of gatekeeping, are undertrained, under qualified, risk averse and completely intolerant of uncertainty. So, to paraphrase Professor Lord Darzi’s idea, the plan is to have no gate at all.

When the blind have led the blind into falling into the abyss, people will reminisce about GPs (remember them?) and will recall that, actually, in retrospect, they did a pretty good job, didn’t they?

In the meantime, I’m crawling back under this rock.

Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex