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How Uncle Jeremy stole Christmas



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‘LOL dolls in stock NOW at Argos!!!’ the WhatsApp message flashed up on my phone mid-way through morning surgery.

I wondered why it was funny that dolls were available in Argos, but a brief scan of the replies from my school mums group made me realise it wasn’t that, but the name of a particular doll. Bemused, I asked what they were.

‘Little dolls that come wrapped up in a ball. The kids unwrap them and each layer has a little accessory or surprise, then the doll is in the middle. Like pass the parcel. They are THE toy this Christmas!’

It dawned on me if the other mums were whipping themselves into a frenzy about these dolls, then as the mum to two daughters, I was probably way behind the pack. A quick google search later, and I found the horror that is a video on YouTube with 4 MILLION VIEWS of two girls sharing their delight whilst unwrapping one of these must-have toys. As I watched their excited, American faces and heard the squeals of excitement ‘Oh they are sooooo cute!!’, it hit me. This is the little girl equivalent of the GP Forward View.

Inside our much anticipated gift is simply an underwhelming, over-hyped, disappointment

We have longed for and waited for a gift for general practice. Things must improve soon. It all goes in cycles. We are overdue a helping hand. All the promises came to fruition when the masses of funding in the GPFV was announced with a flourish. Daring to hope, over the last 18 months we have unwrapped each glossy layer at a time.

The first layer gave us the promise of an extra £2.4 billion into general practice by 2021. Excitedly, we peeled back the next one.

Investing in GP buildings – another win. Maybe this is really what we have been asking Santa for every year since 2004.

Another layer goes in the bin, and unveils workload reduction. This is it!!! The gift that keeps on giving!

Frantically, we tear open the next layer, resilience funding. More doctors – we squeal at a pitch only audible to the family dog.

But the more doctors layer has some small print – 10,000 new staff, 5000 will be GPs. (Maybe. If we can recruit them. Which is unlikely but which we won’t admit.)

And suddenly we start to feel like Santa may be a Daily Mail reader…

The next layer talks about care redesign, extended hours; the one after lists the hoops needed to get any of the funding, and the penultimate one, the caveat that despite promising this funding, there’s no intention to spend it all. None whatsoever.

We are onto the final layer. Inside, nestles the present we have wished and dreamed for – the shiny future of our profession that will make us forget all the pairs of socks, pot pourri and household appliances we have been given by other people. This is the big one.

But like little girls across the world on Christmas day, inside our much anticipated gift is simply an underwhelming, over-hyped, disappointment. A cheap plastic doll, and a pile of mass produced promises that won’t be fulfilled and will have been broken completely by the New Year.

As we watch our foolish hopes vanish to nothing, our gift giving Uncle Jeremy gives us a beaming smile.

‘Do you like it? Isn’t it fabulous!!

It’s taken us 18 months, but now, it’s time for a really, REALLY loud tantrum.

Merry Christmas.

Dr Zoe Norris is a GP in Hull