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Some words of wisdom for the modern GP

This week on Twitter, a paediatrician going by the handle @thefourthcraw has been sharing pages from ‘The National Health Service and You’, a 1965 user’s guide to the Nash by one Dr Ian D Hudson. It’s a fascinating window into the attitudes of the previous century, such as one might get summarising an ancient set of Lloyd George notes, or attending the UKIP party conference. And yet it’s remarkable how much still rings true today; you could open any page at random and find something unexpectedly applicable to your issues today, a bit like Sir Bradley Wiggins might feel reading the BNF.

Fifty-one years ago, a doctor could write a sentence like ‘Casualty officers face a steady stream of scroungers, crackpots and stupid people, demanding urgent attention for trivial complaints’, without then having to incorporate it into an Avoiding Admissions Pathway.

And as for GPs in 1965: ‘A doctor is a human being, with a breaking point like everybody else… if your doctor cuts you off when you are rambling on about something which has no part with the immediate present, don’t think him a rude fellow. He is probably tired, thinking about a cup of tea, or a glass of beer.’

I’m giving serious thought to having that framed in my office.

One wonders what Dr Hudson would make of the latest wheeze to combat burnout, which was leaked this weekend from its RCGP Council launch by EBM Yoda and all-round good egg @trishgreenhalgh; I refer of course to the now-notorious ‘RCGPWellbeing package‘, which features a mindfulness colouring book, some chocolate money, and a gratitude journal.

There are myriad problems facing GPs today that the College could prioritise, from workload dump to rising patient demand to CQC to GMC, but I’d never previously listed among those the absence of a colouring book and some sweeties. But maybe I’m blinkered in my thinking on this by dint of not being seven frickin years old.

A gratitude journal, I learn from Wikipedia, is a psychological treatment for depression in which the owner documents on a weekly basis the things for which they feel grateful, leading to increased good feelings and improved functioning. Presumably the reverse is true, and you can auto-inflict untold psychological damage by taking time out once a fortnight to wax lyrical about the things that pissed you off. Oh well, at least I’ve persuaded Pulse to give me a blog to write it on. Now, where’s that confounded beer? 

Dr Pete Deveson is a GP in Surrey. You can follow him on Twitter @PeteDeveson