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Dr Zishan Mehdi Syed: Protect us O Great Prime Minister

Zishan Syed

Zishan Syed

I am writing to explain to you why I feel the Government must respond to the urgent state of our health care system in the UK.

I believe passionately in general practice and I became a GP as a result of my beliefs in core British values which dictate that we all have a moral purpose in life and that our jobs should reflect the fulfilment of such values.

I belong to a new generation of clinicians and I am just over 30 years old. During that time I have witnessed tremendous upheaval in our health service and the fabric of the nation itself. Britain is undergoing a time of tremendous societal change. Family ties sunder daily. The young and old who are the most vulnerable in our society continue to suffer. As a general practitioner, a lot of my work involves working to safeguard the health of such vulnerable people. I am in fact the lead for this in my practice. Mahatma Gandhi was right when he said ‘A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.’

However, the job is becoming increasingly difficult. We find ourselves expected to do more with dwindling resources. We are enduring exhausting 12 hour days making decisions that require high amounts of concentration. There is little room for error. Serious illness often masquerades with apparently benign appearances. General practice is a skill and over time one develops almost a kind of sixth sense. This goes beyond robotically following guidelines and involves us intervening and frequently saving patient lives. The GMC chair likened the environment of doctors practising medicine to that of war in Afghanistan. Many doctors are finding themselves spending more and more time away from seeing patients with the bureaucracy of revalidation and appraisal. An insidious tick-box culture has entered into medicine that is interfering with training of doctors and stealing valuable time from perfecting core skills under the guise of reflective practice.

I love the thrill of general practice – Gone are the days of coughs and colds but now we are seeing patients presenting with multiple illnesses and polypharmacy. No other practitioner finds himself expected to deal with so much in a humble 10 minutes. However, we do need your help as a just and fair society should surely support clinicians such as myself who are fighting in such a hostile and difficult climate. We find ourselves fighting a war without any body armour. We are unprotected and in every decision we make, our careers and our families’ futures hang in the balance.

Doctors are finding that their indemnity fees are soaring. We find ourselves in multiple jeopardy with threats of action from the GMC, the Health Ombudsman and the courts when patient care can sometimes understandably go wrong in such a climate.

My humble plea O Prime Minister is to protect your doctors! We are your soldiers fighting for the health of the nation!

Dr Zishan Mehdi Syed is a GP in Kent