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Daily Mail’s ‘Mind Doctor’ has missed the real GP story

‘It’s cruel and cowardly for GPs to turn their backs on the old’, screams the latest anti-GP clickbait, referring to the recent Emergency LMC conference vote in favour of separate contractual arrangements for nursing home visits. Being perennially slagged off in the Daily Mail is an unpleasant but inescapable part of the job, like the tawdry indignity of annual appraisal, or people who insist on showing you their phlegm. But it’s a bit special when the slagging comes from a colleague, in this case the junior psychiatrist and columnist Max Pemberton, who writes under the byline ’DR MAX THE MIND DOCTOR’.

‘I don’t go in for GP bashing’, says DR MAX THE MIND DOCTOR, before proceeding to bash GPs for the rest of the article

I should confess that the matey ‘Dr Firstname’ styling beloved of media types grinds my gears somewhat; the only excuse to do this is either a) you’re a paediatrician or b) your surname is so polysyllabic it makes your clinic overrun if you have to spell it to someone. And not only is ‘THE MIND DOCTOR’ cheesier than a neglected phimosis but it also reeks of specialist self-justification; for comparison, imagine ‘DR PETE THE EVERYTHING DOCTOR’ at the top of this blog. Exactly.

‘I don’t go in for GP bashing’, says DR MAX THE MIND DOCTOR, before proceeding to bash GPs for the rest of the article. He goes on to explain how GPs should be ashamed to stop visiting nursing homes (er…we haven’t) on the grounds that we don’t even do it anyway (er…we do). Apparently, the only person who ever sees these patients at all is the MIND DOCTOR himself, multitasking his way through the nation’s care homes like a cross between Neighbours’ Karl Kennedy and a one-man CQC. I wish he’d come round my way; our old age psychiatrists can’t even seem to fill in a blood form. He finishes by stating that GPs should advocate for more funding to look after care home patients, which (cue your Le Fort level III facepalm, basic journalistic research fans!) is the precise point of the LMC motion that launched his tirade in the first place.

Now I don’t go in for psychiatrist-bashing, but I suppose we should be impressed DR MAX THE MIND DOCTOR chose to write a column at all, rather than delegate the responsibility to a collection of minimally-qualified social workers, therapists and associated hangers-on. I’d have expected a poorly-worded, unsigned letter to arrive on the Mail editor’s desk four weeks after deadline day, saying “the Team have reviewed your urgent request for a column and decided it does not meet our criteria at this time”.

Hold on! I’d better be careful here or this blog might degenerate into an unjustified attack on an entire specialty based on prejudice, misunderstanding and clumsy stereotypes! Boy, wouldn’t that be embarrassing!

For all there is to dislike about his most recent article (hint: there’s a lot), DR MAX THE MIND DOCTOR is clearly a conscientious guy who, on days he manages to grasp the stick by the correct end, is also a fine writer. Which makes it doubly disappointing to see him swallow the Mail Kool-Aid and miss the real story of the recent LMC conference – that General Practice is now in such crisis we have been forced to consider mass resignation. I dread to think how cruel and cowardly we will be judged when that happens.

Dr Pete Deveson is a GP in Surrey. You can follow him @PeteDeveson