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How to ‘torque up’ general practice

As well as being a GP, I’m a bit of a petrolhead and over the years, I’ve built up a comprehensive toolkit

My favourite tool is an old torque wrench my father bought me twenty five years ago as a birthday present. It was made by one of the most reputable tool manufacturers in the world (a snappy American company) and must have cost a small fortune when Dad bought it, but it’s still as good as new. Originally it came with a big red plastic case which now shows signs of many years of wear and tear, having been dragged around garage floors and pit lanes at race circuits across the country.

In case you don’t already use one yourself, a torque wrench is used to tighten fasteners such as nuts or bolts to a specified torque. This prevents you from over-tightening fixings and damaging the screw threads.

It also means that the nuts and bolts on car wheels are less likely to come undone – a very good thing, especially if you’re going at 90 mph. I use my trusty torque wrench as part of every pre-track-day spanner check, when I make sure no part of the car is loose or likely to fall off. Due to high manufacturing standards (and all my TLC), it could literally last a lifetime.

At the moment, 40% of GPs say their buildings are inadequate for providing services. My surgery building is certainly bulging at the seams and we are soon to start yet another renovation by knocking two storage cupboards into a ‘bijou’ consulting room for our new nurse practitioner. Admittedly it’s a relatively inexpensive job, but when you consider the year-on-year fall in GP income, even a small cost is a significant drain on the practice finances. 

I hope the GPC is successful in its negotiations over premises funding with NHS England, because without it more and more GP surgeries will become unusable. Not all practices either have the physical layout or even funds to expand like my practice is doing just to maintain services, let alone expand them.

Hopefully NHS England will acknowledge what good value for money GPs are and that we deserve funding in this area. Just like the torque wrench, the box we’re in might look a bit tattered, but what’s inside is worth protecting for years to come. 

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Dr Hadrian Moss is a GP in Kettering, Northamptonshire. You can tweet him at @DrHMoss.