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I’m giving it 110%

Answer me this: how much, percentage wise, does the average Olympian – or footballer, or any other sportsperson – er, ‘give it’? Correct answer: one hundred and ten percent. That is the universally accepted benchmark for proper sporting effort and nothing less will do. But let me tell you this: we GPs knock 110% into a cocked hat.

I realised this today after I stopped banging my head on the desk in response to this story. It’s about how a Government advisory body reckons that the proportion of time GPs spend treating children and young people should be reflected in their GP educational brownie points.

Let’s sidestep the obvious, shall we? That a body called The Children and Young People’s Health Outcome Forum is unlikely to be suitably objective about how it thinks our education should be divvied up, for example.

And that there’s no particular reason why children should be singled out for special treatment because, although they’re ickle and cute and vulnerable, they’re also a bloody sight healthier than most other patients on my list. And that, in fact, the more time I spend dealing with kiddiwinks, probably the better I am at spotting the few important problems they have and therefore the less time I need clocking up educational paedomiles. And also that I thought the whole point of the CPD process was for me and my appraiser to decide what my educational needs were, not to have them imposed on me by some drum-banging loons.

Instead, I want to get into some maths. Because let’s say I spend 25% of my time on kids. Pretty soon, the Very Elderly and Frankly Half Dead Health Outcome Forum (just give it time) will come out with a similar plea for GP education to reflect etc etc. The very elderly and frankly half dead, I reckon, comprise 50% of my work. Then there’s the young adults, with their smears, their family planning, their pregnancies, their STIs and so on: 25%. And then there’s the middle-aged, which are at least another 25%. Then there’s admin: 50%. Training: 25%. QOF: 99.9%. And so on.

Add it all up. The result is interesting. What you’ll find is, we GPs give around 1,000%. No wonder we’re knackered. Not to worry, though. We can find that little bit extra, can’t we? For commissioning? For revalidation? For CQC? Come on team – let’s give it one thousand and ten percent...

Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex. You can email him at and follow him on Twitter @DocCopperfield