Former GP's artwork highlights GP crisis and campaign to save NHS

A former London GP who quit the profession to become an artist has produced work challenging the government's handling of the NHS and highlighting the crisis in general practice.

Dr Jane Mackay: former GP quit medicine to take up art full time
Dr Jane Mackay: former GP quit medicine to take up art full time

Dr Jane Mackay, who worked for 30 years in general practice in London, painted 'The pig and the snake' (below) to help raise public awareness that the NHS is close to collapse.

The image shows prime minister David Cameron - depicted as a pig - trying to remove the snake from the rod of Asclepius, a symbol associated with medicine and healthcare that forms part of the BMA's logo.

GP workload

Short pieces of text written or printed out by Dr Mackay, relating to the GP crisis or issues such as NHS spending on PFI projects, are spread around the image.The Pig and the Snake, by Jane Mackay

Dr Mackay said her message to GPs struggling in the face of heavy workload to maintain their commitment to the NHS would be: 'Just try to hang on.'

But she said doctors should not be afraid to explore other interests or to switch careers, particularly as they cope with soul-destroying pressure.

Dr Mackay said she moved from a career as a GP into art over a five-year period.

'After 30 years in medicine I threw my stethoscope into the Thames - off Lambeth Bridge. That was 15 years ago and I haven't done a day's medicine since,' she told GPonline.

'But I moved out of medicine gradually, going from full-time to half-time over five years.'

As a synesthete, much of Dr Mackay's work involves 'recording the images she sees in her mind's eye when listening to music'.

Dr Mackay's 'Pig and the snake' artwork is on display in the Free Space Gallery, at the Kentish Town Health Centre in north London, until 18 March.

The former GP has recently begun a Masters in fine art at Wimbledon College, and plans to explore protest art, focusing in particular on the GP crisis and the recent junior doctor strikes.

Click here to visit Dr Mackay's website

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