This site is intended for health professionals only

‘It was like leaving an abusive relationship’

‘The public and the politicians pay you to take shit from them,’ my appraiser said, in what he presumably intended as a timely attitude readjustment. But he was wasting his breath.

I had decided to leave my practice after falling apart mid-consultation when a patient threatened to kill herself. The threat itself was mere hyperbole, but it was the last straw.

Leaving general practice has been like leaving an abusive relationship: the shaming and invective, the fear, the unreasonable demands were about driving down self-esteem. Looking back, I can’t believe I thought I could stick it for another 30 years.

I had time to reflect, not without a little bitterness, on what the job had become: the spiralling workload and the cold dread of stepping across the practice threshold each morning. I left general practice last December and started work at a hospice a week later.

I made the change for several reasons. Gone is the relentless pressure to move onto the next patient. I have taken a significant pay cut, but I don’t care, this job at least does not treat me like something you scrape of your shoe. I start at 9am, get a lunch break, and I get to lavish time on my patients.

What would it take to induce me to return to general practice? Even as I ponder the answer, I know it’s futile. The job won’t get any more sustainable with seven-day opening, and a dwindling number of colleagues. No. I’m done. You can keep the excrement.

Dr Daniel Mounce was a GP in Bradford.