Dr Zara Aziz: The general practice workhorse is being flogged to death

It is true that the start of a new year promises us a fresh start, but in 2017 it also feels like we are standing upon the precipice of change in general practice and the NHS as a whole.

It was Sunday evening, and as my husband watched Sherlock on TV, I struggled to keep my eyes open.

It was not because ‘The Final Problem’ episode was not riveting, but because I was battling to stay awake while completing an online module on ‘Moving and Handling' to show the practice is CQC-compliant.

It was my second attempt at the end-of-module quiz – having failed abysmally the first time. I had five more modules to complete in an already packed week of clinical work, practice meetings, an educational supervisor’s review and various CPD activities.

Earlier, while completing the riveting ‘Fire Safety and Evacuation’ module, my daughter brandished her maths book in front of me with the equation y=mx+c written boldly across the page and asked the question: 'How do I work out the y intercept?' I couldn’t for the life of me remember.

This was rather worrying given that I love maths, problem solving being my favourite hobby (that is when I had time for hobbies).

'Ask your Dad, he is better at these sorts of things,' I answered guiltily.

But it made me think. We all have only so much to give of ourselves to so many aspects of our lives, be it our work - consulting with patients, dealing with piles of paperwork, supervising trainees or managing the fall-out from crisis-ridden hospitals - or our personal lives. And the whole is so much more than the sum of its parts.

Former RCGP chair Dr Clare Gerada echoed my sentiments exactly when she said in an interview on the Sunday Politics show at the weekend: ‘I cannot physically and emotionally work any harder’.

Our workload has already reached crisis levels and is no longer sustainable. But it is clear that the government will continue to flog the workhorse of general practice to death, even at the cost of compromising patient safety. I wonder what CQC would make of that?

  • Dr Aziz is a GP in Bristol

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