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Facing a recruitment crisis? Just fill vacancies with receptionists

So let me get this straight. Specially trained receptionists can take over a lot of basic nursing duties. Freed-up nurses, helped by surplus pharmacists and a phalanx of physician associates, can take over from GPs.

We liberated GPs, in turn, are going into A&E to man the casualty barricades. This will allow A&E doctors go ahead being proper consultants. These consultant duties are increasingly being taken over by specialist nurses.

And nurses (see above) are being replaced by uber-receptionists.

Which means, if I’ve got this right, that the answer to the NHS crisis that it’s going to be staffed exclusively by receptionists at every level.

That’s pretty clever when you think about it, because a) They’re relatively cheap to employ and b) What they lack in clinical skills they more than make up for in their ability to say, ‘No, that won’t be possible’.

Alternatively, we could stop this ridiculous musical-chairs of NHS staff and remember that, oh yeah, there’s a reason why these various roles exist and are filled by particular people.

It’s because they have a particular and highly valuable function and require personnel with specific knowledge, skills and talents, and that when you fanny around with them it betrays a lack of understanding on your part and is insulting and undermining for the incumbents.

I realise that’s a statement of the bleeding obvious for most of you, but apparently it isn’t for politicians. For them, let me put it as simply as I can. You wouldn’t get a plumber to rewire your house, would you? Though, in your case, I’ll make an exception.

Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex. You can follow him on Twitter @DocCopperfield.