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We just need a bit more dinner money

‘Mummy can I have a little bit more money for dinner please?’ I smiled at him, summoned him to me, gave him a hug and motioned for him to sit down.

‘I’m sorry darling, your father and I have been talking, and there’s no more money for your school lunches, you shall have to manage.’

It’s a tough lesson to learn, but one that the powers that be are very good at teaching us

He looked a little perplexed: ‘But it’s for my dinner Mummy, I can’t go without dinner. You don’t understand, the dinner ladies have got to be paid more because of the living wage, and the ingredients cost a bit more this year, so the price of the meal has gone up. So I need a tiny bit more money.’

Bless him, silly child. I tried leaning forward a bit and tilted my head, to one side and smoothed my cardie (well it seems to work in consultations): ‘There is no money, my love.’

He became incredulous: ‘No money? No money for me to eat? Really? So then why have you just bought a new car and are in the process of getting a fancy new extension at the back of the house?’

Now I had to admit, this was a tricky one to answer: ‘Well darling, you need to understand, not all money is equal. We hold the purse strings so get to decide how to spend the money here. We at Parenting England believe that the car and extension will provide the family with vital efficiency savings, which will make all of our lives better. Without the bespoke soft furnishings we will all suffer. In fact to ensure the family can thrive, we need the triple glazed bifold doors, so we’ve actually had to reduce your dinner money by 10%. I know it sounds unbelievable, but we employed a family financial consultant, who also happens to work for the glazing company and the interior design team, and he says this is what has to happen, so there it is.’

I patted his head as he sobbed and rocked in a corner, then I nipped upstairs and took £10 from his piggy bank and raided his junior ISA. After all, those cashmere throws don’t buy themselves you know. 

It’s a tough lesson to learn, but one that the powers that be are very good at teaching us. We get the shiny newish GP Forward View with billions attached. We’ll have resilience coaching, and we’re getting requests to bid for the ‘GP resilience programme’. There’s money for the glossy ‘GP Improvement Programme’ which will ‘release time in general practice’ by… taking us out of general practice. Despite these ‘generous’ investments we’re told there is no money for our core contract and efficiency savings are vital.

I know ‘new money’ is not to be sniffed at. But this is money we need to bid for, fight for, fill massive forms in for, and still probably won’t get. There may be money for specific areas of general practice, but only if you’re willing to jump through the hoops.

Frankly most practices could live without this right now. We don’t need the shiny eco bi-folds, and handmade Italian chaise longues. What we really need is bread and butter – we all need a bit more dinner money.

Dr Susie Bayley is a GP in Derby and chair of GP Survival. You can follow her on Twitter @susiebayley