I realise I should know better, but there was a moment during Jeremy Hunt’s interview on the Today programme a couple of days ago when I became so excited that I nearly drove into a tree. It was when he said, and I quote, “I will be giving a speech in around a month’s time about a new deal for general practice”.
This came immediately after he had sympathised with how hard we’ve been working and emphasised, for the umpteenth time, how keen he is for us to feel valued. Yes, I thought, at last, our troubles are going to be over and our efforts will be recognised and we’re all going to get something which will make it feel worthwhile and worth continuing, such as, I don’t know, maybe a free Labrador puppy.
Then I thought, hang on, I’ve not heard a sniff about this new deal, nor have I read about any ongoing negotiations with the GPC. Which either means it’s a fait accompli about to be unceremoniously dumped on us, or it’s being scribbled on the back of an envelope even as I write.
So I thought I’d better check out Cameron’s speech that same afternoon. And that confirmed my worst fears. The specific references to GPs are as follows:
-“A new deal for GPs with more investment, more training and a more personal link with patients.”
-“Rethinking what primary care can be. Prevention, not just treatment. Tackling causes, not just symptoms. Treating the whole person, not just an individual ailment.”
-More investment: can’t wait, especially in the context of a short speech that mentioned seven day opening ten times. More training? Sure, it may take ten years to polish up a GP, but every headline writer and charity tub-thumper knows more GP training is required. But a more personal link with patients? If I got any closer I’d be up before the GMC.
As for rethinking primary care to incorporate prevention, causes and holism, all I can do is swear very badly and loudly along the lines of what the f*****g f**k does the f*****g Prime f******g Minister thing we f*****g well do every f*****g day of our f*****g working lives? F**k.
Sorry. But it does get to you. Anyway, what this means is there’s a set-in-stone contract the GPC knows sod-all about heading our way which has been devised, signed, sealed and delivered by people who know nothing about general practice and care even less.
So if I hear Jeremy Hunt on the radio again talking about wanting to make us feel valued, this time, I won’t make the mistake of missing the tree.
Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex. You can follow him on Twitter @DocCopperfield.