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GPs can’t keep saying ‘yes’ to so-called obligations

When we GPs are told what to do, we have a long and proud tradition of saying, ‘Get stuffed’. Partly because we’re professionals, and we’re self-employed, but also because it’s great fun to be bloody minded.

It’s a sound policy, though. In my experience, most impositions are inappropriate, ill conceived and irksome. If something really is worth doing, I’d almost certainly be doing it already. Besides, nonsense needs to be nipped in the bud before it can expand or metastasise.

After all, look what’s happened to QOF. What started off as, arguably, an interesting, credible and manageable exercise in rewarding quality has evolved into a non-evidence based forum for the madcap ideas of politicians and tub thumpers which has become so gargantuan, indiscriminate and voracious that it’s about to eat general practice as we know it. If only, earlier on, we’d had the guts to say, ‘Enough’.

Which is why alarm bells should be ringing over the news that certain PCTs are suggesting that Level 3 child protection training (whatever that is*) is mandatory. Of course, we’re self-employed, so they can’t ‘make’ us – what will they do, stop us seeing children? – though they can generate one heck of a hassle-filled email trail along the way.

Rather more worrying, though, is the implication that such training might be a revalidation requirement. Huh? I thought the whole idea of reappraisal/revalidation was that, with my appraiser, I should identify and sort out my own educational needs. That’s the message the fluffy educationalists have been sending out repeatedly to appease appraisal/revalidation sceptics – so frequently and convincingly that these days I can even say it myself without gagging.

Now I feel the chill of someone else’s agenda being imposed. And what might next week’s mandatory course be? Spotting elder abuse? How to take blood pressure correctly? Ear syringing? Then what’s to stop the whole of general practice being deconstructed, with revalidation disintegrating into an exercise in rubber stamping my certificate collection?

I was a passive conscientious objector to revalidation. A development like this makes me a raging refusenik. It’s bad enough as it is, but attempts by various ‘stakeholders’ to hijack it will make it unbearable. So you know what you have to say to those trying to muscle in on your PDP with imposed level 3 training or anything else: something rather stronger than ‘Get stuffed’.

*Not sure, exactly, but I can guess that it’s a) time consuming and b) for most experienced GPs, unnecessary.

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