I know it’s never going to happen, but just indulge me by imagining a huge crowd of militant GPs taking to the streets armed with banners, megaphones and sloganeering T-shirts. You’d anticipate, then, the start-up of the traditional protestor chant, specifically, ‘What do we want?’
Tricky. ‘When do we want it?’ is easier: now, obviously. What do we want, though? Good question. According to the BMA, what we want is, ‘To put pressure upon the Government to deliver the resources necessary to secure the future of general practice and to enable it to provide safe patient care’. But, as a protest chant, that scans terribly.
And that, perhaps, is the real problem with the BMA’s latest ploy. You know, the one about taking a ballot to decide whether they should consider taking steps towards another ballot with a view to collectively closing patient lists.
Yes, its multi-layered caveats render it as threatening as the Andrex puppy. Yes, it’s over a year too late. And yes, even if you could galvanise GPs into collective action, all you’ll generate is some publicity which could go either way.
But overriding all that is the feeling that, if the threat is vague, the aim is even vaguer. The best we could get is Forward View 2.0 comprising more nebulous, arms-length promises. Whereas what we actually want is for the job to be less shit.
True, the sources of that shit are so many and varied that it’s hard to know exactly where to apply the shovel. But it certainly isn’t just about resources. It’s about taking work away, as I’ve blogged ad nauseam. And, importantly, taking work away could involve very specific, achievable and impactful targets, and I don’t need to remind you what those might be (oh, all right, appointment caps and contracting out residential home cover, for starters).
So, what do we want? Clear aims. Then we might understand what a ballot on a ballot on a possibility might actually achieve.
Dr Tony Copperfield is a jobbing GP in Essex