This, my first blog for Pulse, is the product of a supreme feat of willpower. The temptation has been near-overwhelming, but I’ve somehow managed to avoid writing about Professor Steve Field, who told the Daily Mail and a Parliamentary Select Committee that general practice has ‘failed as a profession’ and that he is ashamed to be a GP. There has been no shortage of colleagues lining up to give their opinions on this matter, but I for one shall not be joining them.
Lesser men might have felt compelled to highlight the irony of being lectured on shame by a man whose career to date suggests a total obliviousness to said emotion. Lesser men might even be rushing to point out (with a hat-tip to Pulse Commenter Rog Neal) that the great man’s own practice, which he reportedly thinks should be allowed to bypass the beady eye of the CQC, falls below the local and national averages on every metric of the Patient Survey. And who could blame them? The column would virtually write itself. It’d be like shooting fish in a barrel.
But this GP will not be talking about Steve Field, for the simple reason that talking about Steve Field is exactly what Steve Field wants GPs to do.
As the Times’ health editor Chris Smyth put it: ‘Nothing makes a regulator look tougher to outsiders than the complaints of those it regulates’. The louder we shout, the higher the Maggotfinder General rises in the estimation of his new chums in the Department of Health. The ink was barely dry on the GPC and RCGP press releases condemning the Chief Inspector before Jeremy Hunt stepped in to state that his ‘credibility was beyond question’ – which is a bit like getting endorsed on LinkedIn for Bribe Refusal by Sepp Blatter. Field himself even has a word for the chorus of outrage he generates from his former colleagues: he calls it ‘push-back’ – a piece of management-speak so godawful that even David Brent would wash his mouth out with bleach after using it.
So I hope my fellow GPs will join me in refusing to give He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named the push-back he craves. Hopefully, if we can write enough articles not about Steve Field, he’ll do the decent thing and resign, pausing only to cancel the 500% hike in CQC fees planned for this year. Nothing wrong with wishing for a New Year miracle, is there?
Dr Pete Deveson is a GP in Surrey. You can follow him @PeteDeveson