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Life IS a piece of shit, when you look at it

Har har har, that’s ironic, innit? Pulse blogger writes blog on how to get five stars and only gets two! And a bit rich criticising blog pics as stereotypical caricatures while her own is a standard kooky ‘Look, aren’t I fun?’ mugshot. Also, weird trying to accept life-lessons from a ‘leadership fellow’, whatever that is, who looks about 12.

That’s what some people might say. But not me, because I’m above that. Besides, I bet the number of readers who give a toss about Pulse interblog warfare is precisely zero.

The thing is, though, Dr Merrifield is right. Strip out the gratuitous sniping and you’re confronted with the valid point that many mainly older, mainly male GPs mainly blame everything but themselves for GP life being mainly shit. I’ve virtually made a living out of it.

But remember. Just as there are no heartsink patients – just heartsink doctors – there are no heartsink bloggers. If you’ve developed a Pavlovian gag response to the bellowings of Jurassic GP, consider not the effect it’s having on you, but why it’s happening in the first place.

Take me, for example. I’ve been a GP for 29 years. Yeah, I know, and I admit I’m drifting into a coma even as I write this. But bear with me. I’ve invested a lot of time, energy and emotion in developing a good practice, happy in the knowledge that I’ll be able to put pass the baton on, and that the job I hold dear will retain its essential values even while the surrounding landscape shapeshifts alarmingly.

But it doesn’t feel like that anymore. Practices are falling over. No one wants the commitment of partnership. New blood is nigh-on impossible to find, and those that do apply have a take-the-money-and-run mentality. Or, if you prefer the tired old wartime metaphor from a tired old frontliner, we’re shell-shocked, we need new recruits but we seem to be training mercenaries.

Apologies for defaulting to auto-apocalypse mode, but the result is that general practice as-we-know-it is falling apart. These aren’t the ramblings of a GP dement, and even if they are, it’s still true. And a big part of the problem is that the new generation of GPs who can stop this happening is increasingly seeing general practice as not something special and precious but as just a job. And that is what it’s in danger of becoming.

It feels like a diminishing number of GPs recognise this. And those that do feel increasingly marginalised, which is why we’re shouting louder and with increasing desperation.

Hence those blogs: don’t say we didn’t warn you, careful what you wish for etc etc. And by the way, blog success is judged by quantity of comments, not number of stars. So, har har har, you win.

Dr Tony Copperfield is a jobbing GP in Essex