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This crisis calls for a radical GP makeover



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I’m getting slightly fed up that the current media portrayal of the ‘NHS in crisis’ inevitably involves packed A&E waiting rooms, frazzled casualty consultants and ambulances in holding patterns.

The implication is that we GPs are, meanwhile, reclining on a chaise longue being fed grapes by receptionists.

It may be that the media share the anti-GP attitude of certain sectors of secondary care/medical education.

Or it may be that general practice does not possess the necessary tele/photo-genic drama to engage readers and viewers.

The media will quickly realise that the unsung heroes of the broken NHS are us GPs, so anticipate being called up for numerous interviews

So it’s time for an image revamp. I’d like to suggest that:

  • We all start wearing white coats again. And have stethoscopes slung around our shoulders, even though we never use them. And adopt earnest, ‘I will save you’ expressions.
  • We adopt a first-come-first-served non-appointment system, encouraging patients to queue, especially outside, overnight, in the cold and wet, perhaps, for really long waits, setting up a little camp, with small fires and singing, which would be nice and filmic.
  • We put flashing blue lights on our cars for when we visit our elderly chronics about what turns out to be their bunions.
  • I change our practice mission statement to ‘Playing God – but better’.
  • Every prescription for a statin or hypertensive comes with a counterfoil message saying, ‘Saving your life – again’, and that we set up media interviews with grateful patients who say, ‘It was amazing – I woke up this morning and suddenly noticed a complete absence of central crushing chest pain or numbness and weakness down one side with facial lop-sidedness and drooling and I realised, that’s thanks to Dr Copperfield, if it wasn’t for him, I’d be dead. Every day.’
  • Channel 4 commissions a six part series called ‘Miracle practitioners’ in which patients demonstrate how their lives have been transformed thanks to treatment of their polymyalgia, ear wax and so on. Maybe a two part series.
  • The RCGP isn’t let within one hundred miles of this initiative.

As a result, the media will quickly realise that the unsung heroes of the broken NHS are us GPs, so anticipate being called up for numerous interviews.

Remember, look hard-pressed but compassionate. And empty your mouth of grapes.

Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex