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Copperfield at Pulse Live: Does the new contract make you want to punch me?




And so to the final session of the day – a stirring speech on the future of general practice by Helen Stokes-Lampard. This included a decent shout for continuity (hooray) and an enthusiastic embrace of the new contract (not so hooray). Oh, and as for tech, apparently there’s an app for pelvic floor exercises – and yes, that was leaked by the Chair of the RCGP.

Tragically no time for questions, so I continued with my survey. Not good. I realise, too late, I’m nobbling people I’ve already surveyed and that makes them want to punch me in the face more than the question about the new contract does.

So I’ll sign off. Tony Copperfield, news at Pulse live, from a nearby A&E, with a large ice-pack.


Lunch break involved networking (aren’t they supposed to pay us for that now?), evading persistent massage lady, collecting more post-it notes and being punched in the face a lot (read previous blogs for explanation).

Onwards and upwards into the afternoon. And interesting fact of the day from the ‘Managing addiction’ talk. Apparently, we spend more on illicit drug use than we do on DIY. Which rings true, because last week I definitely spent more on Sauvignon Blanc than I did on rawl-plugs.

Onto a slightly chilling and confusing list in the Indemnity Update outlining all the areas that the new state scheme won’t cover. And there are some potential bananaskins here, such as nurses potentially not being covered for travel vaccinations – that’s just one example of potential gaps between the government’s scheme and the MDO’s. But don’t worry, you’ve got five days to sort it all out.


So the coffee break enabled me to crack on with my, ‘When I say the words new contract/primary care networks, do you want to hug me or punch me in the face?’ survey. And it’s going….oddly.

Very little support for the new contract, that’s clear (1.5 votes thus far, the 0.5 being a lukewarm handshake rather than hug). Loads of people wanting to punch me, although it could be argued that’s normal.

But the vast majority just returned a ‘What new contract?’ vote.

Incredible. 49.5 days to go to primary care network sign up and it’s blank looks all round. And that’s not an indictment of our slow reading skills, it’s an indictment of the crazy deadline.

Anyway on with the programme. I’ve always dreamed of, mid-winter, herding patients in the waiting room together and leading them to a trough of antibiotics, so Group Consultations seem a natural fit. And actually, some of the talk’s content was really almost as radical, such as sharing the groups blood results to exert peer Hba1C/lipid/BP etc pressure. Wow. Harsh, but apparently effective. Great speaker, too, who flagged up the truth that patients who take off their coats and hang them up at the start of a one-to-one consultation deserve to be off-listed (latter bit my words).

Next came ‘The age of technology’ by the very engaging Dr Amir Khan who pointed out, among other things, that we have to arrange a funeral for our fax machines by next April, that the NHS App is one of 43,000 health apps on itunes, and that not only are patients to be diverted care-navigation-style by receptionists, but these receptionists themselves may be replaced by e-receptionists. Will they be able to breathe fire, though?

11:15am Standing room only for ‘Finding a balance – developing a rewarding portfolio career. Which I guess means the partnership shortage isn’t going to be resolved any time soon. And I can understand why, because fellow blogger Surina Chibber gave a fascinating talk highlighting some amazing people doing amazing things, the only disadvantage being it made my daily drudge at the coalface seem like, well, a daily drudge.

There was great advice, too. Such as ‘Explore yourself’ (no sniggering) before you jump into roles. If I’d taken on some of these tips when I was a fresh-faced GP, maybe I now wouldn’t be a cantankerous, cynical, wrinkled old git. I do quite enjoy being a cantankerous, cynical, wrinkled od git, admittedly, and at my age you take your pleasures where and when you can. But even so, Doc Chibber did leave me wishing I could start over.

Back to earth with ‘Current legal issues facing general practice’ which I think can be summarised by saying there are lots of them, and they’re scary. So this neatly reverted me to my default grump.

10:00am It’s like being on a slightly dodgy holiday, this – I’ve been offered three massages already.

Anyway, onto the main business. Our editor intros by pointing out that Matt Hancock was invited, said he was too busy (something to do with Europe????) and yet has been spotted downstairs at a techy conference!

Then it’s straight into the Big Debate, ‘Should we legislate for health?’ which is a bit heavy maybe, given I’ve only had one coffee so far. Then again, some of it I can cope with, like the truth behind the obese is that they eat too much (this may not be news to you, but it is to them). Education doesn’t work, nor does exercise. We’re hard wired to want sugar, the problem is we’re not supposed to see it that often.

So the government has to persuade the industry to do more = legislation.

I think that sums it up.

I’m off for a doughnut.

8:30am What’s going on? Why are all these people here? I realise that Pulse Live is the crucial GP event of the year yada yada, but don’t they realise there’s only 50 networking days until Primary Care Network sign-up?

Maybe they’re fed up with the whole thing already and looking for a break from endless PCN-prep meetings. Or they’re the opposite polarity, eager to hear what luminaries such as Drs Vautrey and Stokes-Lampard have to say. Or they’re like me, utterly perplexed by the whole thing, and seeking the comfort of crowds of the equally bewildered.

Whatever. I will try to bring you the mood of the people, whether refusenik, enthusenik or confusenik. I intend to do this by jumping out at random GPs and asking them, ‘New contract: do those words make you want to hug me or punch me in the face?’

Plus I’ll be reporting on other conference highlights. Which means I shall have to up my game, as the recent blog on the LMC conference featured an incident in which the main hall was invaded by a dog. This could only be topped by a horse galloping across the main stage during Vautrey’s speech, so fingers crossed.

First, though, I’ve got some PDP objectives to fulfil. Which means cramming my pockets with as many exhibitor post-it notes as I can lay my hands on.