Letters in The Times 8th August 2017 and the original letter sparking the response. Rationing of places has been prolonged and it’s too late to stop the two tiers of health care now… The GP situation now HAS to get worse, because if the numbers needed are imported they will not be trained for British General Practice.
Sir, Elizabeth Clarke (letter, Aug 5) fails to appreciate the “perfect storm” facing primary care. With the ageing population, demand for GP appointments is steadily rising, up 25 per cent in six years. At the same time medical defence fees are rocketing and we are still expected to carry out complex consultations often involving patients with multiple conditions in ten minutes; my working day is never less than 12 hours.
If general practice were so lucrative we would have lots of eager young doctors wanting to enter the profession, but there is a huge number of vacancies in GP training posts, and retiring GPs are not being replaced, resulting in practices closing.
There is a crisis in primary care and it is catastrophic that little is being done to tackle it, with the exception of Jeremy Hunt’s plan to harvest 5,000 GPs from the “magic GP tree”.
Dr Stewart McMenemin
Sir, I was dismayed to read Elizabeth Clarke’s suggestion that GPs’ earnings are so great that they need work only three days a week. If this is the case, why are a growing number of partnerships unfilled and why are some practices declaring themselves no longer viable? After 25 years in general practice I am seeing more patients, more often and for longer, while my pay remains the same as ten years ago. Were I younger I would certainly be considering other occupations or emigrating. As it is, I await retirement.
However, ill-informed comments reduce morale still further and I seriously believe that general practice, as we know it, will shortly cease to exist. Some may believe that this a good thing. If so, the best of luck to them in their old age.
Dr Roderick Shaw
Sir, As a fourth-year medical student I was disappointed by the implication that doctors are shirking their duties to society. Even my brief experience of general practice has given me huge admiration for the way GPs cope with the stress of an emotionally draining job where one mistake, in ever-shortening consultations, could lead to someone’s death. It’s hardly surprising that some of them, both male and female, feel unable to work full-time. The vast majority of medical students are motivated by a commitment to do their best for patients, rather than personal gain, so it is disheartening to feel that there is no room for doctors to be human.
Imperial College London
Sir, I am a young GP who is “part-time”. But though I see patients for just six morning or afternoon sessions, each clinical day lasts more than 12 hours, equating to 36 hours of work. There are then insurance reports and benefits assessment forms to complete, cluster meetings (these would be commissioning meetings in England) and mandatory educational meetings for my appraisal, which all takes an average of another ten hours a week. In what other profession is a 46-hour week considered part-time?
Dr Alec Jones
Sir, Many part-time GPs, myself included, are women with young families. If we could not work part-time we would not work at all: what a great loss to the profession that would be. It is better to have a part-time GP than no GP at all.
Dr Annie Middleton
Tunbridge Wells, Kent
Sir, The obvious way to ensure that GPs work full-time is to pay them less. Full-time earnings for GPs are so great that most can have the luxury of a very comfortable life working only three days a week.
If they feel that their work is too stressful to work any longer, perhaps they should try some of the occupations that pay half as much as theirs.
Sir, I am not surprised that trainee GPs find it too stressful to work full-time (report, Aug 2). Many have or want children and many have well-paid husbands. When I was a medical student less than 10 per cent of my colleagues were female. Is it not time someone insisted on medical schools recruiting at least 50 per cent males?
Dr Tony Barson