I’ve learned a new word this week, while staring dumbfounded at the political horrorshow unfolding across the pond. Assuming you’ve got the same sensation of powerless melancholy as me and were searching for a way to encapsulate it, Weltschmerz – translating literally as ‘world-pain’ – fits the bill nicely. It’s one of those compound words the clever Germans riveted together from two smaller nouns (see also Durchfall – an earthy collision between the German words for ‘through’ and ‘fall’ that beats hands down for both ease of spelling and brevity of utterance in a pinch the co-opted Greek word diarrhoea that English speakers use in its place).
I’ve been compelled to construct a German abstract noun of my own
Following the Prime Minister’s recent mean-spirited and ill-considered attack on our profession, I’ve been compelled to construct a German abstract noun of my own: Schweinefickernostalgie – meaning (loosely) a totally unexpected feeling that just maybe old Davey Cameron wasn’t quite so bad after all. It takes a special combination of vindictiveness and stupidity to try and lay the blame for the A&E crisis on a GP workforce that’s already working harder than a Moscow Ritz mattress protector, but that’s what Ms May decided to do. It’s almost as if no-one told her that we have a crisis of our own in primary care recruitment and retention, or if they did, she gave no thought to the effect her words might have on it.
It was therefore no surprise to learn this week that, far from the increase in GP numbers the government has been boasting of since before the last election, it turns out that there are fewer of us in the UK now than in 2015. Indeed, I correctly predicted as much two years ago, although let’s face it this revelation is unlikely to have you rifling my pockets for a set of DeLorean keys and a 2017 Grays Sports-And-Blindingly-Obviously-Doomed-To-Fail-Political-Promises Almanac. I might even stick my neck out and say we’ll certainly miss Mr Hunt’s target of 5,000 GPs by 2020. In fact, so confident am I that I hereby pledge, Gary Lineker-style, to write any subsequent blogs in my pants in the event I should be proven wrong. (Unsettling mental image aficionados will be pleased to learn that this won’t necessitate a significant change in my authorial routine).
There’s an old German proverb that says you’ll catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, but with our leaders determined to continue ladling on the Sarson’s, this country will keep losing good GPs to the sweeter embraces of early retirement and the Antipodes. Then who’s going to cure my Weltschmerz?
Dr Pete Deveson is a GP in Surrey. You can follow him on Twitter @PeteDeveson