Once upon the time, when The Witch Doctor was a very junior doctor without any higher qualifications at all and no experience whatsoever of the specialty, she was asked if she wanted to join a single handed GP practice.
Just like that.
The Witch Doctor was astonished.
What is even more astonishing was that the GP concerned had never met her.
He spoke to her on the phone though, and using the-telemedicine-of-the-day-apparatus, he appointed her as a locum so he could have a weeks leave for some urgent private family matter.
This sort of thing still happens in a different context. Presumably this kind of interview is not that much different from the modern innovation of making a diagnosis over the phone without knowing or examining the patient.
However, it seems this particular GP instructed his receptionist / practice manager / radio-nurse / cleaner to decide whether or not she liked the Witch Doctor. If she did like her then she was to ask her whether she would like to join his practice. This middle aged women was the only other person working in the practice and the GP had instructed her, in addition to her other roles, to act as a navigator in The Witch Doctor’s car in order to direct her on home visits.
She must have liked The Witch Doctor because during that week she posed the question several times in the car as they drove between patients.
The answer The Witch Doctor gave is irrelevant.
What is relevant is that this strange scenario indicated how a single-handed, fraught GP behaved when he was at the end of his tether at a time when there was a great shortage of general practitioners.
This was general practice at its most cost effective but in the inner cities it didn’t work very well.
Sometimes, The Witch Doctor wonders whether there might once again be an acute shortage of doctors. A preponderance of female intake into medical schools, the European Working Time Directive, costly tuition fees, the government and GMC continually demanding more and more senseless documentation, the demise of professionalism….
And, of course, there are the clients from the Patients’ Association demanding the facility to nip out of their estate agent’s office so that a friendly GP nearby can make a quick diagnosis of some trivial malady during their coffee break.
Will the predominantly female doctors, coming from rich families (£9000 / annum to go through medical school) quietly walk away at some time in the future saying to themselves “Enough is enough, life is too short for this?”
Perhaps they will.
It is, however, a distinct possibility that they will, and having no doctor would be an interesting experience for those “clients” who are continually running down the medical profession or alternatively making unrealistic demands of them.
Anyway, it seems 6,700 GPs will retire within the next two years.
The reasons they give are:
Changes to pension taxation
Potential increases to personal NHS contributions.
No doubt those designing the new Health and Social Care Bill as it hops its way through parliament will have thought of the possibility of thousands of qualified doctors turning their backs on medicine.
Presumably they have a Plan B.
While The Witch Doctor contemplates that there might be a shortage of doctors once more, her mind sometimes wanders to what she read at the time of MTAS.
There was once a man close to government who is reported in Hansard as saying:
His name was Sir Liam Donaldson.
The Witch Doctor thinks she would like him to take her out to dinner somewhere posh.
Just to ask him exactly what really and truly went on behind the scenes leading up to MMC/MTAS, and whether he still believes the country needs more doctors.
a red apple ……………………
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