We’re all used to the Government’s doublespeak tendency to recycle money and reannounce old funding as new. So the ambiguity within this statement on an NHS website about ‘Time for care’ should come as no surprise: ’As announced in the General Practice Forward View, NHS England is establishing a new £30m development programme, supported by a new £45m fund for staff training and a new £45m fund for online consultation systems…’ Nope, me neither.
We are used to being tied in knots by a combination of dumb-ass sloganeering and financial obfuscating
But now the politicians seem to have a new semantic game. Whenever money is supposedly on offer to practices – and God knows we’ve got schemes, pilots and initiatives coming out of our ears – we’re tortured by the dosh being subject to all sorts of absurd conditions and remaining tantalisingly out of reach.
Thus, this new development programme involves, according to Pulse, ‘… a plan for groups of practices to receive a programme of workshops and learning sessions to come up with action plans…. most practices could expect to release about 10% of GP time over the 9-12 month period’. So, just to clarify, if we get together with colleagues to get some teaching to come up with a plan to save some time to free us up to do something else at some point, then we’ll be funded.
In case you’re still confused, the original GP Forward View clarifies that ‘Releasing time for patients’, which may or may not be the same as ‘Time for care’, will provide ‘Free training and coaching for clinicians and managers to support practice redesign,’ so, er, there’s money to train us up to, er, support us, to er, redesign our practice to, er, lose the will to live, presumably.
This kind of bullshit pervades the GP Forward View and all the documents it has spawned. We are used to being tied in knots by a combination of dumb-ass sloganeering and financial obfuscating. But these illusory offers of funding – always one or two or three steps removed and which recede even as we try to approach them – are a new and really effective form of grinding us into submission.
Doubtless the Government would justify this new technique by saying that instead of just splashing the cash, they’re trying to train us to – get the bucket ready – ‘work smarter’. Or, to quote the old proverb: ‘Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime’. When, in fact, they are just using that fish to slap us in the face.
Look, chaps, if the funding’s there, just give us the f***ing money.
Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex. You can follow him on Twitter @DocCopperfield