I realise that politics in general, and medico-politics in particular, is a tough job. And I do accept that it’s certainly tougher than what I do, which is sniping from the side-lines (or, as my appraiser once put it, ‘ranting like a madman on a street corner’).
All the sense of direction of a decapitated chicken
But. But but but. I now am no longer sure where we are, exactly. And if I was, I wouldn’t be sure exactly how we got here. So I’ve checked the sequence of events, starting with our call to arms at the beginning of the year and culminating, at the end, with us vaguely waving a survey at Jeremy Hunt and running in the opposite direction.This is what happened:
January 2016: at a Special LMC Conference, it is agreed that the GPC should ballot GPs on their willingness to kick some governmental ass in the form of undated resignations, unless we are rescued from our shitty jobs within six months.
April 2016: the Government responds with its ‘GP Forward View’ comprising a lot of talk but very little walk.
May 2016: the LMCs conference decides the GP Forward View is utter bollocks (my words)/ an inadequate governmental response (theirs) and gives Hunt et al three months to accept the Urgent Prescription’s glorious wish-list – including a cap on appointments, long consultation times and a new care home DES. Or else that aforementioned ballot will really, really happen, yes it will.
August 2016: the definitely-going-to-happen ballot is called off because, er, it’s all a bit complex and legal – and the GPC has received concessions on workload along the lines that the Government has read the Urgent Prescription thing and it’s ‘a good basis for further discussion’. Instead, we’re going to get a survey.
November 2016: the survey results show that we’re all working ever so hard and might be helped by more nurses, more mental health workers, and patients generally getting out of our faces.
All of which means that, in the space of a year, we’ve gone from radical policies with clear timelines and the threat of pyrotechnic militancy, to a woolly, survey-based agenda and all the sense of direction of a decapitated chicken. Maybe there is a plan. I just can’t see one among the debris of shattered dreams. If there is, someone please tell us what it is. Otherwise we’re forced into the view that, as I say, medico-politics is a hard job. But it must be even harder to get it this wrong.
Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex. You can follow him on Twitter @DocCopperfield