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‘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.