As I near the end of my GP training my initial excitement and anticipation about starting work has become eroded by the increasingly desperate state of general practice, and the non-stop coverage of its apparent failings. I have, at times, felt doomed and disliked before I even begin.
This has been compounded by health secretary Jeremy Hunt's statement that doctors in the NHS in general lack a sense of vocation and professionalism.
Kick in the teeth
Such statements are kick in the teeth to somebody who has spent 15 years of their life striving towards the simple goal of working as a GP. I have seen a derision towards our profession which has amplified by the day, and this has been reflected in some colleagues handing in their notice and leaving the job I have yet to start.
When I discovered a group of GPs on a social media site who were planning to change this view of general practice, to fairly represent GPs where other organisations have failed, and to portray to the public the reality of general practice today, I felt relief that there might be hope for my chosen profession and excitement that I could get involved.
This group has rapidly grown to over 2,500 members, and has evolved into GP Survival. I joined the steering committee as the interim rep for trainees and newly qualified GPs. We are now ready to make our presence known; not only in the world of general practice, but also to the public, who we feel need to be aware of the true depth of the crisis in primary care. And all of this is being coordinated and organised in our spare time – so much for the ‘9 to 5 attitude’ of GPs.
Crisis in general practice
We have a mission statement and clear, tangible aims, primarily to draw attention to the current crisis in general practice in the UK.
We will identify and highlight the causes of the crisis and campaign for realistic solutions to problems such as an unsustainable workload, unfair funding and an unsupported, skilled GP workforce. We plan to promote general practice and the appropriate use of our resources.
These may seem like simple issues but, quite frankly, up to now they have not been adequately addressed.
By creating the first not-for-profit, democratically-elected group representing hard-working GPs, we hope to preserve the profession and ensure that general practice survives and can continue to serve our communities.
But GPs can’t fight alone; not only do we need to stand united, we also need our patients to work with us to improve things for everybody.
We want to cut through the headlines and talk about the reality of being a GP, and being a patient on the front line of the NHS. Only by fairly representing GPs and eliminating the negative press that continuously surrounds us, can we start to make real changes and begin to make an impact with our campaign.
We welcome all UK GPs to join us in this fight for the survival for general practice.
- Dr Rebecca E Jones is a GP registrar in London and GP trainee/NQGP representative at GP Survival