This site is intended for health professionals only

Are GP trainees really heading for oblivion?

I went to watch the latest Tom Cruise vehicle Oblivion last week (two hours of my life that cannot be retrieved).

It followed the typical narrative arc of Tom Cruise films so perfectly described by the comedian Rich Hall: Tom Cruise does Job X, he’s pretty good at Job X in fact. Then he has a crisis of confidence which means he can’t do Job X anymore. But luckily, he meets a beautiful woman who restores his faith in himself and he goes back to doing Job X.

Repeat ad nauseum for pilot, racing car driver, bartender, sports agent and secret agent (try it).

In Oblivion, a young couple are looking forward to a utopian future, once they have completed a period of necessary but unpleasant work. However, they slowly realise that everything is not rosy in the garden and that their lives are being controlled by an evil Master race.

For some reason this made me think of GP training - and specifically our first GP VTS teaching afternoon.

We were engaged in a slightly tree-huggy exercise looking at what we were looking forward to about general practice, how we saw our ‘journey’ through training and what we were expecting at the end of it. An element of control of our working lives and a better work-life balance were recurring themes from all the groups. Needless to say we were all relentlessly positive.

It’s all been a bit doom and gloom more recently. We’ve had Jeremy Hunt suggesting NHS staff are ‘coasting’ and seeming to suggest that GPs should take back responsibility for out of hours, while Dr Dan Poulter (with friends like these…) blaming the increase in emergency department attendances on poor access to GPs. We´ve had the passing of the Section 75 regulations in the Lords, GPs on CCGs resigning, GP partner pay falling and an increased amount of work being transferred to primary care.

I’m sure I could go on. It makes all that shiny-cheeked, bright-eyed optimism of our first day seem a long time ago and more than a little naive.

Spoiler alert: I don’t think it would surprise too many people to hear that, despite the title, everything works out for the best for Tom Cruise in Oblivion - in fact he ends up living in a lovely house in the country. Maybe there is hope yet. 

Dr Michael Kilshaw is an ST2, living and working in Cheltenham. He can be found on Twitter @docmike79.