Jump to content

Matthew Norman Takes A Pop


Recommended Posts

The British have only one national religion, Nigel Lawson famously observed, and it is the NHS. The former Chancellor was bang on the money back in the 80s, and today most of us still worship the great monolith. For all that, one sniffs a rise in heretical questioning, and even agnosticism. No sooner have the angels of geriatric nursing been stripped of their wings than the local priests, our general practitioners, come under attack.




Complaints about GPs summarily removing patients from their lists have risen in the last year, and ombudsman Ann Abraham is rightly displeased that a growing number of family doctors now operate a zero tolerance policy better suited to one of those publicity-crazed sheriffs beloved of rural Alabama voters.


The rules which dictate that GPs observe a careful process before sacking a patient are increasingly ignored, we are told. Indeed, some doctors are now as queenily intolerant of perceived disobedience from those they are paid to look after as cabin crew who demand an emergency landing to remove a passenger for looking at them funny after a two-hour wait for the complimentary peanuts. As always with the NHS, its vastness makes it very hard to gauge the scale of a problem from the statistics alone, and the figures here are tiny. But invariably we judge its state of health not from waiting list times or cancer survival rates, but from personal experience and anecdotal evidence... anecdotes like that of the terminally ill woman peremptorily struck off, along with the daughter who changed a battery in a nausea-alleviating device without waiting for the district nurse.


Every trade has its fools and nutters, and you cannot judge a profession by the pathological idiocy of the odd individual. And yet there is that osmotic sense that GPs are ever more vulnerable to the inflammatory disease known in Harley Street (forgive the technicality; there are excellent medical dictionaries online) as uptheirownarseitis; that too many have forgotten, if they ever knew it, that theirs is a service industry.


I trust no physician will take umbrage if we describe the GP as a glorified plumber with shorter hours, much better pay and a less cumbersome toolbox. No offence is intended, because to this urban Jew the simplest precepts of plumbing are as awe-inspiring as those of car mechanics or deckchair assemblage. The challenges facing the GP are, in fact, less opaque. All correctly hypochondriacal Jews regard themselves as doctors who never bothered with the petit bourgeois requirement of formal training, and I am a consultant diagnostician of the first water.


Writing as such, I have enormous sympathy for the humble GP. He or she is obliged to spend most of a draining 45-hour week dealing with athlete's foot, housemaid's knee and minor infections of the upper respiratory tract. They are also at peril not only of the alcoholism and drug addiction that plague the business, but of repetitive strain injury from scrawling "Amoxicillin" on a prescription pad to nudge the cold-sufferer out after five minutes, albeit the drugs won't foreshorten the sniffling by so much as five seconds.


Also writing as such, I have even more sympathy for any GP who has to deal with the likes of me. I wouldn't wish myself

Link to comment

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...