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A GP’s letter to Father Christmas



Dear Santa…

I don’t know if you’ve ever had to consult a GP, but you may be aware that general practice is in a bit of a shocking state and I would really like your help.

I realise I am a tad older than your usual customers, but I hope you don’t mind me making up for lost time from childhood. I was raised in a household where you were not welcome, but I am now a grown-up GP, and you and the reindeer are welcome at my home.

I know you are busy so I’ve kept my wish-list for 2015 as short as possible – but it is in order of priority and, frankly, if you grant the first one then I might not even need the rest.

The most important gift for GPs would be a dedicated union. Yes, we have the LMCs and the GPC but they don’t like the word ‘union’; I think they feel it’s too uncouth. But if we could control the changes in our contract, retain our independent status, be guaranteed the pensions we signed up to and generally develop a backbone, I would gladly be uncouth.

My next wish would be that you stop the RCGP brown-nosing the Government and being complicit in the march towards federations, seven-day working and a salaried workforce. And while you’re at it, bring some of them down from their ivory towers of ‘quality’ and ‘standards’ and show them perfect RCGP-style consultations don’t work in deprived, inner-city practices like mine.

And please, please, please, Santa, stop all the micro-managing of my job. Which other highly skilled professionals are bossed about as we are? Why do I have to accumulate my pay from five or six different pots of money instead of being trusted to do the job I was trained for?

Next, could you remind the Government and the public that we are not McDonald’s or Tesco; we do not provide a 24/7 or 12/7 service for routine care.

On the subject of governments, could we have a change next year? At the moment, any alternative seems better than this.

If you possess any hypnotic skills, please use them to make least 50% of medical students choose general practice? If not, then please grant my first wish as that may help.

Santa, I know you are a man of peace but could you ‘accidentally’ drop a sizeable amount of explosive from your sleigh as you fly over the Daily Mail offices. At night, of course, so no one is hurt. This would also help with the previous request.

The top-down reorganisation of the NHS we were promised would not happen has put so many people in pointless jobs. Could you take anyone with ‘improvement manager’ in their job title back to the North Pole with you?

For once in my life, Santa, let me answer a patient complaint as my heart tells me to, instead of trotting out the standard nauseating, apologetic drivel no matter how irrational the complaint.

Finally – and I know this is the hardest one – please resurrect Sergeant Brody, as Homeland is not the same without the lovely Damian Lewis.

Yours, Dr Nabi.

Dr Shaba Nabi is a GP trainer in Bristol.