Liam Farrell: Warning! Humans working in the NHS

'It is always the best policy to speak the truth,' said Jerome K Jerome, who then added an important qualification - 'Unless, of course, you are an exceptionally good liar.'

So we all owe a debt of gratitude to leading surgeon Professor J Meirion Thomas, who, like Keats' Chapman, spake out loud and bold, albeit in this case, in an article in the Daily Mail. His unpalatable truth is that 'the gender imbalance is already having a negative effect on the NHS'.

Most female doctors, he explained, end up working part-time - usually in general practice. They tend to avoid the more demanding specialties, which require greater commitment, and look for a better work/life balance.

Doctors also tend to marry within their own socio-economic group and, he observes, in many cases, the wife is the secondary earner, which further encourages less demanding part-time work. Not only lazy, I say, but lazy and snobby too.

The professor also pointed out that as: 'GPs tend to work in small group practices, there is a danger these can become backwaters, isolated from the nourishing influences of hospital medicine.' The obvious solution, which he probably omitted for brevity, is for everybody to live close to a hospital.

General practice, he concluded, is organised for the convenience of doctors - particularly female GPs - not their patients. As you might expect, there was fierce condemnation of the professor's remarks from the usual suspects, all aflame with righteous outrage; we can't handle the truth.

But in reality, the professor's honesty didn't go far enough. I can reveal that there are men, yes, actual men, working in the NHS. Let's be honest, men are pigs; I'm one, so I should know. Shallow, venal creatures, exhibiting all the vices, except perhaps greed, which requires a bit of energy; give men a sofa and a six-pack, and they're happy.

So how the NHS continues to function with such a large percentage of men and women in the workforce is a mystery. The truth is, you can get a lot done when you don't have, you know, a life.

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

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