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General practice is a joke that just isn’t funny anymore



There was a time was when these blogs would relate hilarious (well, I thought so) episodes from the wacky world of general practice. But, while there’s still the occasional smirk-worthy moment (e.g. the fact that, in the last three months, we’ve had a grand total of one Friends and Family Test questionnaire returned, and that was blank), it’s getting increasingly difficult to introduce any levity on account of GP land being so frankly crap. As a result, our cerebral LOL centres have atrophied, and it’s no longer possible to shrug off the grind of general practice with a wry smile.

We’ve gone beyond being buoyed by stunt politics and instead want real solutions

Which probably explains my reaction to the proposal that all GPs should immediately be signed off work with stress. This is a motion apparently proposed by Shropshire LMC, which could be debated at the LMCs conference this month.

Once, I’d have found this hilarious – not least because, as one reader has commented, who will sign GPs off with stress if all GPs are signed off with stress? But I don’t find it hilarious now, though. Yes, it’s clever, quirky and eye-catching. But the parlous state of general practice means we’ve gone beyond being buoyed by stunt politics and instead want real solutions. We thought the much trumpeted Forward View might offer some: a grand gesture or two, perhaps, which would have been instantly transformative. Instead, we received small pots of jam tomorrow, half promises with strings attached, which just add to the frustration rather than alleviate it.

And so, in the absence of those grand gestures, the LMCs are resorting to empty ones in an attempt to raise a smile or some publicity. I doubt it’ll do either. General practice is a joke that just isn’t funny anymore.

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