Dr Tom Jones: Imagine if a £350m EU windfall gave GPs footballer lifestyles

I was mightily looking forward to the weekly injection of £350m that, just a couple of weeks ago, we were reliably informed would be winging its way to the coffers of the goodship NHS in the event of the B-word (which I have now banned myself from ever uttering again).

That sort of money could surely have catapulted us lowly GPs into the same sort of wage-bracket as those current social pariahs, the England football team.

We are assured, these gents are worth every penny of their £50-100k (or so) per week, because market forces dictate it to be so. Watching them in action last week, it was possibly a little difficult to justify that position, but let’s examine the evidence, and imagine what life would be like if not only the earnings, but also the lifestyle of a GP, were a little more similar to that of an international footballer. What WOULD that look like?

Well, there would be several immediately appealing features to this turn of events:

  • 40 hours per week of professional development.
  • 90 minutes per week of actual work (180 minutes in a heavy week).
  • Retirement at 35 with a pension fund even more attractive than the current NHS one.
  • A Ferrari.
  • A yacht.
  • Unlimited adulation in your local neighbourhood.
  • Camaraderie - imagine the feeling of completing a successful minor op, and then knee-sliding down the surgery corridor to bask in the cheers of an ecstatic waiting room, whilst your colleagues pile on top of you in delirious abandon to share the moment.

But let’s not be hasty...

With great rewards come great responsibilities, and footballers aren’t always basking in the good times (with the possible exception - at the time of writing - of Welsh ones).

That waiting room fanbase can turn nasty, you know.

For instance, have you ever tried to cannulate a tricky vein with 10,000 voices ringing in your ear yelling ‘You Don’t Know What You’re Doing’, or - worse, interpreted an echo result whilst the baying voices remind you that - ‘You’re SH*T - aarghhhhhhhhhh!’

Then there’s the newspapers. A quick glance at today’s redtops shows nothing but bile and opprobrium towards those very same footballers who were recently lauded as the chaps most likely to bring glory back to their nation after ‘fifty years of hurt’.

Imagine a world where, by virtue of their mega-earnings and public profile, GPs were regularly slated in the press; and armchair-critics of the profession launched regular ill-considered broadsides. Journalists who had never actually done the job preaching about how it ought to be done, and how dreadful the current state of affairs was in GP-world.

Now wouldn’t THAT be awful?

  • Dr Tom Jones is vice chair of the GP Survival group and a partner near Manchester

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