Liam Farrell: GPs, Simon Stevens and Game of Thrones

According to George Eliot: 'Mr Lydgate had the medical accomplishment of looking perfectly grave, whatever nonsense was talked to him.'

I too was maintaining my sober mien, even faced with Joe's bowel movement diary.

But I was sinking, it was all too much. I laughed, I cried, I puked a little; I felt like a drowning man, looking around desperately for a lifebelt or one of those friendly dolphins, or even the cavalry riding over the hill.

Call me a pessimist, but my life has been marked with a notable lack of cavalry. Which left me with one last hope - where were all the Cambridge graduates, I wondered?

To paraphrase Basil Fawlty, there was us, thinking it was NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens' fault, when it was actually our fault all the time. Only this time it's not our fault, it's those upstarts at Cambridge University.

'I was looking at the proportion of medical school graduates who choose to go into general practice and Oxford and Cambridge are amongst the lowest,' said Simon. 'One thing you could help us with is make more of the folks you teach at Cambridge more interested in taking it up.'

I can see his point, needing about 40 A-levels to get in, then punting on the Cam, strolling on the quad at Christ's College, barcarolles in the moonlight. Yet after all this, they still don't want to become GPs. Is that ungrateful, or what?

Imagine Crick and Watson bursting into the Eagle and disturbing the patrons at their lunch, shouting: 'We've discovered the secret of life! The helical structure of DNA!' and then saying, by the way, we're entering general practice to spend our lives much more fruitfully, ticking boxes and asking depressed patients if they fidgeted a lot, not much or just enough.

The problem with Simon Stevens is that he doesn't speak the language of general practice. Simon asked us to 'reflect' on advising young docs to steer clear of general practice. On reflection, Simon: 'You know nothing, Jon Snow.'

  • Dr Farrell is a GP from County Armagh. Follow him on Twitter @drlfarrell

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