Chris Lancelot: Give me the power to practise properly

If there's one word I'm sick of hearing, it's 'empowerment'. 'Empowering' patients to get the very best out of the NHS usually implies disempowering others - principally, I suspect, those who actually work there.

So can it be my turn, please? I'd like to be empowered too. I don't want to be told by outsiders how to behave or what to do. I'd like my decisions to be based on professional values and knowledge, not upon political expediency, financial stringencies or the latest complementary treatment.

I'd like to be empowered to run my practice in my own way, instead of having the PCT or the politicians telling me exactly when and how quickly I should be seeing my patients. (Is there extended access to health ministers, then? I doubt it.)

I'd like to be empowered to study to my own standards, not anyone else's. Being a professional, I think I can be trusted to know where my knowledge needs brushing up, thank you.

I'd like to be empowered to practise without needing a sheaf of certificates proving I can give injections, monitor children's development and take out lumps and bumps. (Wasn't that what medical school and the hospital years were for, or am I being naive?)

I'd like to be empowered to work in primary care without PCT managers thinking I know so little that I have to be given protocols to work to. Never mind that no two protocols ever seem to be the same. Non-medics often don't realise how much 'best practice' changes over the years. Someone has to be the first to start a new way of doing things, and protocols inhibit this.

When are we doctors going to have the courage of our convictions and stand up to these know-all outsiders? There is nothing worse than being a professional GP, inadequately resourced by the state, taking all the risks and bearing all the responsibilities, only to be told by someone with a 35-hour week and no direct responsibility for patients that we're doing it all wrong.

We're professionals: we know what we're doing. We shouldn't be constantly undermined or demeaned. So I'd like to be empowered to be a GP, please.

  • Dr Lancelot is a GP from Lancashire.

Email him at GPcolumnists@haymarket.com

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