Liam Farrell: I'm a celebrity, get me a fellowship!

'Other maps are such shapes, with their islands and capes!/But we've got our brave captain to thank./(So the crew would protest) that he's bought us the best/A perfect and absolute blank!'

The Hunting of the Snark, Lewis Carroll

Other medical disciplines are fortunate. They are more predictable and can apply more scientific rigour; their maps are complete, easier to plot.

General practice, by contrast, is the great unknown. We stand on the cusp of the beyond; science takes us only so far, then the maps stop in the grey areas of intuition, imagination and feelings. Anything can walk through our door; whatever it is, we can handle it.

Lurching from heart-breaking tragedy through mind-numbing triviality to high farce, we are the Renaissance men and women of medicine; our art is intangible and almost impossible to pigeon-hole.

This is why I have great affection for the RCGP. Some of my colleagues consider them a bunch of folk who are insecure about being 'ordinary' GPs and believe dressing up in purple and strutting around in academic professions will stop hospital consultants looking down on them.

But the college, to its credit, took in hand this great intangible and tried to impose discipline and order on it. The map will always be incomplete - large sections are still labelled 'Here be dragons' - but it is a praiseworthy attempt.

And yet the RCGP remains capable of curiously lovable buffoonery. Remember the college tartan? The idea was bad enough, but the execution was worse. The dominant colour of the tartan was beige, which doesn't exactly say 'power' or 'authority' or 'gravitas'; it's more like: 'wipe your feet.'

The RCGP surpassed itself when it presented celebrity chef Jamie Oliver with an honorary fellowship. I know many fine GPs deserving of recognition from their peers but, instead, our star-struck professional academic body prefers sucking up to a celebrity. I see a new TV series on the horizon: I'm a Celebrity, Get Me a Fellowship!

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

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins


Already registered?

Sign in

Just published

Medicines on shelves

Dispensing practices face cashflow crisis as 'yo-yoing' fees fall sharply

Hundreds of dispensing practices across England face cashflow problems that could...

Female GP on a phone call wearing a headset

Seeing patients in person after multiple remote consultations

Dr Ellie Mein, medico-legal adviser at the Medical Defence Union (MDU), suggests...


Golden hello scheme brings in almost 3,000 new GP partners

Almost 3,000 GPs have become partners for the first time under a scheme offering...


Government confirms £2.45 core pay uplift to support 6% practice pay rise

Global sum payments per weighted patient will rise from £102.28 to £104.73 for 2023/24...

Nurse giving elderly man the flu vaccination

Flu vaccination prevented 25,000 hospitalisations last year

Health officials are urging vulnerable people to come forward for their flu jab after...

BMA strikes

Public blame government for long NHS waits as three-day strike begins

Three times as many people blame the government for the record 7.7m NHS waiting list...