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Howzat for a PCN

Don’t you just loathe an extended metaphor?

This thought occurred to me as I watched one of the World Cup cricket matches the other day. And I realised, of course! In front of me was all of primary care, played out with bat and pad.

There was a demanding public baying for an improved run rate. There was a multidisciplinary team of bowlers, batters and fielders all working towards a common goal/wicket. There was even, under certain meteorological conditions and to promote fairness, the application of an arcane mathematical formula which everyone knew about but no one understood. And I am certain that the Duckworth Lewis Method would work just as well as the Carr Hill formula in calculating GP funding, though whether the opposite would hold true for working out run requirements remains to be seen.

Interesting then, that, with the current well-publicised world shortage of cricketers, there is talk of consolidating teams into larger groups according to logic and geography. Australia with New Zealand, for example, and Pakistan with India. While it’s hard to see what could go wrong with this, provided the players put in enough practice at the networks, it may not be enough.

In front of me was all of primary care, played out with bat and pad

That’s why the ICC is going to boost team numbers by partly funding new recruits drawn from underemployed fields such as retail, catering and postal services, some of whom once watched cricket and have a vague awareness of the rules.

These plans sound very encouraging, but with change and new funding comes problems and obligations. Some are concerned that the dilution of team identity and skills may spell the end of first wicket partnerships. Many will be concerned about plans to make cricketers themselves responsible for the weather, and any ticket refund implications. And some have expressed shock that unanticipated VAT implications mean that a ‘six’ will now only be worth 4.8, although it may be possible to reclaim the residual 1.2 runs at the end of the tax year.

Clearly, there is a lot for general practice to learn here. Which perhaps goes some way to explaining why we have appointed Joe Root as our PCN clinical director.

Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex. Read more of Copperfield’s blogs at or follow him on Twitter @doccopperfield