Letters, calls & emails: What price vocation in a modern world?

Dear Editor

We see the same persistent drive by the DoH to satisfy public demand in many areas, so that we are now effectively a consumer-driven GP service, regardless of what we think.

Would it now be appropriate to reconsider our professional standing and our role in a service-driven community?

Do we accept ourselves to be another service industry and succumb to commercial demands? If we subscribe to this philosophy we are no better than the superstores opening on Sundays.At least they have the opportunity to create more income if they offer more choice.

It is true that we will demand more in terms of financial rewards both for GPs and staff to cover these extended hours. Does that mean we will have a shift system for GPs to cover these extended hours, have more GPs to do this, work longer hours or sell out to the private sector?

Do we all become salaried employees of the DoH? Do we want a more comprehensive out-of-hours service and call it instead the 'other GP service'?

Let's not indulge in 'training the patient' attitudes. It is a non-starter because consumers can demand anything. Must we simply provide more and more to convince ourselves we are a 'caring' nation?

Perhaps we need to leave our perceived immune position of a vocational commitment and patient-first care attitude for that of a cost-based career.

And what about the NHS hospital service? Will that also be subjected to patient demands for evening, Saturday and Sunday appointments, surgery being performed in the evenings or at weekends and clinical investigations being carried out when it suits the patient? We can go on talking about this endlessly.

Having worked for 30 years as a GP, and struggled with first-come-first-served sessions, the present-day appointment systems and the quality framework, while keeping on top of education and appraisal, I am looking forward to retiring sooner than I would have liked and I am not alone. I would now like to be a patient instead.

I am disillusioned, weary,and simply want to leave this wonderful, dedicated profession.

I believe we have all behaved honourably as physicians and I am proud to have served as a GP and acted well as an advocate for the community as their 'doctor', friend and a member of their extended family.

Name and address supplied.

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