Introducing GPs Anonymous

It’s New Year’s Day, traditionally the time for making resolutions. This year there is, perhaps, one particularly bad habit that we should all resolve to give up. You know the one – being a GP. In recent years it’s been increasingly accepted that GPs are to blame for most of the problems in the NHS and being a GP is now seen as something for which we all ought to be ashamed. Surely then it’s time we considered getting ourselves some help.

Whether it be our delayed diagnoses, our inappropriate admissions or our failure to offer enough appointments, it’s time to face up to the uncomfortable truth, GPs are the problem. It’s not as though we haven’t been told enough times by enough people. Finally it’s time we listened. The facts, as they say, speak for themselves – it really is all the fault of we GPs.

We must deny it no longer. We must stop trying to convince ourselves we’re OK and instead acknowledge our failings. After all, if we don’t, how can we expect anything to be done to help us. We will just go on making our own life, and everyone else’s, miserable.

Everyone’s aware of how embarrassing GP behaviour can be. You know the kind of thing, how we spoil everything for everybody on Christmas Day by turning up at family gatherings rather than opening our surgeries as normal. Without a doubt it is selfishness such as this that, at this time of year, leads to A&E departments being inundated with patients who are then forced to waste precious hours of their time in waiting rooms burdened by their sore throats and itchy toes. And then, of course, there is our wilful ignoring of patients whose symptoms clearly suggest that they have cancer but who we deliberately neglect to refer preferring instead to put an unnecessary burden on secondary care services by recklessly admitting patients to hospital just for the fun of it.

So let’s all face up to our problem. I’ll go first by introducing myself:

My name is Peter – and I’m a General Practitioner.

If you’re similarly afflicted, come and join me – I’m setting up ‘GPs Anonymous’ in the hope that together we can support all those who are stricken with the affliction that is ‘being a GP’.

But perhaps you’re still not convinced that you have a problem. If so, can I urge you to ask yourselves these four screening questions? Answer two in the affirmative and you may have a problem – answer ‘Yes’ to all four and you’re in real trouble.

C – have you ever felt you wanted to cut down how much general practice you do?

A – have you ever been annoyed by criticism of your actions as a GP?

G – have you ever felt guilty for what you have done as a GP?

E – have you ever started doing your ‘GP thing’ early in the morning?

Extra phone lines will be installed should demand for this new service prove overwhelming.

But why do people fall into the destructive behaviour patterns that are characteristic of general practitioners? Some have suggested that in some cases there may be a genetic component – seeing your parents behaving as GPs seems to predispose some to follow a similar path. Mercifully, however, this is becoming less common. Others experience a little bit of general practice early on in their medical career and naively imagine that it’s a good thing – something that they can control. After all, just one attempt at a ten minute consultation can’t hurt can it? But before long they’re out of control – only in it for the extortionate pay, the long hours of ‘off duty’ and the kicks one gets from the systematic mismanagement of those who thought they were there to help.

It’s a tragic condition but this year, with the arrival of ‘GPs Anonymous’, there is at last some real hope for change. So please give generously, together with your help, this year we can rid the country of the blight that GP’s have become.

And then won’t everyone be happy?


[This is a reworking of something I wrote back in January 2015. Apologies to those who may have seen it before but sadly it seems it is no less relevant today.]

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