Thursday, November 02, 2006

How Much Is That GP In The Window?

GP Action Figure"Now with bonus Stethoscope, Malpractice Insurance and Pink Slip!"

Recently, in the comment section of this post, Dr Crippen chided me for taking a "Ghandi-esque position on the moral high ground" in the doctor-nurse issue. I admit to being a mere medical student, a pawn in the chessboard that is the medical profession, and as such may be a little wet behind the ears at the moment. But for all the ER, Grey's Anatomy and House that I grew up watching, I still dreamed of the medical profession as being a noble and nearly-perfect one, populated by happy people in white coats with reputations and consciences as clean as the sterilised walls they worked within.

Then came medical school.

And not just ANY old medical school, but this one. In a city whose health services are going bonkers due to obviously well-planned and well-thought-out (sic) NHS reforms.

So in all my bright-eyed innocence, I decided to play medical student and go tug on a few white coats to ask them what they thought of all this nonsense. The first I pounced upon was Dr Simon Lockett, an alumnus of Jesus College who agreed to come up to deliver a talk to medical students. Sitting in the lecture theatre, I was looking for a shrewd but kindly-looking genial man in a white coat to show up and tell us all about how he's looked after hundreds of families and watched patients grow old. So I was mildly surprised when a man whose face was half-obscured by a thick moustache reminiscent of Mark Twain walked up to the podium and, in exactly the kind genial voice I'd imagined him to speak with, told us all about his adventures as a General Practitioner.

As it turns out, Dr Simon Lockett is no run-of-the-mill GP. He is Secretary of the BMA's Norfolk committee for GPs, and has been involved in medical politics for some time. When the panicked coffer-fillers at Castle Spewitt, the Evil Headquarters of NHS Management, sprung upon the brilliant idea to cut costs by denying operations to heavy smokers, Dr Lockett was one of the GPs who spoke out against it. He is mentioned near the bottom of this article in the Times. Unfortunately, we all know that GPs are only useful as grunts and scapegoats, and as such have no political say. I decided to quiz Dr Lockett on a few on the issues that have bugged Dr Crippen and other medical bloggers.

(For the benefit of the reader, any quotes from Dr Lockett have been put through my patented DeMoustachifier(TM) so that they, unlike when I first heard them, are immediately coherent to the reader.)

On being able to perform minor surgeries: Like many GPs (and by this I mean the GPs who do not have scalpel-happy tendencies and deep-rooted regrets at not having gone into surgery instead) Dr Lockett is amazed that policymakers actually believe GPs do not have enough on their hands already and spend their free time sipping tea and discussing the latest episode of EastEnders in the clinic lounge. He attributes this to most policymakers' experience of actual doctors' schedules coming solely from watching extremely accurate and authoritative medical shows like Doctor Who.

On the current management of the NHS: Dr Lockett agrees with me that the NHS, the one-of-a-kind healthcare system in one of the greatest countries in the world, is being run by a group of rabid baboons in a doughnut shop with John Prescott.

NHS Policymaker
On Nurse Practitioners being on A&E front lines: The moustache shakes sadly from side to side. Having gotten into trouble enough times to develop a Spider-Man-like sense of When Not To Ask Because You Really Don't Want To Know, I decide to skip to the next question.

On the real source of the NHS financial woes: Here Dr Lockett, having had his share of the politics involved, hesitates to be overly critical. He is very generous and hmmms his way through most of his reply, saying things about how the policymakers never really had time to properly test any of the reforms before they were put into action, and as such they were hurried through. He looks at me with a knowing smile, and I know that he is silently agreeing with me that the NHS reforms were dreamt up by a 5-year-old child dosed up on crack. He suggests that the financial deficits were simply because not enough money has been put into the NHS. Patsy Hewitt, eager to deflect any blame from herself that might spoil her well-polished and professionally-scrubbed white-toothed smile, has pointed the finger at mismanagement of funds. Remember that the next time you're at your local hospital and you see a consultant drive up an hour late in a brand-new Mercedes SLR. And you wonder. *X-Files ending theme plays*

And there we have it, folks. Straight from the workhorse's mouth. Dr Lockett, despite being someone who has seen the NHS fall apart from the inside (apart, of course, from the times when he was lax enough with his trimming to allow the moustache to actually impede his vision) comes off as a very cheery fellow, still happy enough to enjoy his job, dot his consultation room with Doctor Who memorabilia, and hand furry Daleks to his patients to stop them crying. I wonder what sort of a doctor I'll make when I grow up. For some reason this comes to mind:

I can't imagine why.

P.S. To all those who sat for the Cambridge BMAT exam, good luck! Hope it went well, and that your urinary sphincters were stronger in the exam hall than mine was. Email me your tales of woe at angrymedic [at] gmail [dot] com.


Dr John Crippen said...

Do read The Houseman's Tale.

and then get out your sun tan lotion and your surf board:

"I'm an SHO facing unemployment in february. I have many doctor friends who are unemployed. It's a total heartsink to see our consultants facilitating the training of so many "practitioners" when there are docs already trained out there, and joining the dole Q, and at the same time we have a chronic shortage of nurses. Sadly, there don't appear to be many cosultants like you brave enough to stick up for us. The reason I'm up so late is because I've just been on the phone to an Australian hospital about a job over there, as I can't face signing on when my current post ends. I don't know what the future holds for me and my colleagues, but the only thing I'm certain of is that I won't be returning to the NHS. IF I return to the UK, it will be in a role outside medicine, of that I'm certain. After a lot of soulsearching, I don't care anymore how much it cost the taxpayer to train me. The govt has run the health service into the ground, and it treats it's doctors like cattle.I would rather stay here and work as a doctor, but it looks like sunny Queensland will be my new home unless a job materialises in february pretty quickly.



dearieme said...

Oh dear. The wet season is not the time to go to Queensland. Yeasts will grow all over his skin. Tell him to start in South Australia and move to Queensland for the dry season.

There's a thought. Is Spewitt just a nasty Aussie yeast?

The Angry Medic said...

Dr Crippen: Thanks for the travel tip, doc. I did read The Houseman's Tale, but didn't catch the comment by junior-doc-guy before you posted it here. Despite the constant pointing-out of my cerebral deficiencies that being in this university entails, I like to think that I'm not so thick as to miss key current issues. But I must admit I was surprised that there were doctors on the dole. Why is this happening when the rest of the world faces an international doctor shortage? Why is the Home Office cutting down on foreign doctors but upping med school intakes when there obviously aren't enough jobs for doctors?

Dearieme: According to a pathology textbook I am reading, Spewitt is in fact a rare Aussie yeast. Particularly virulent, it was detected in Newnham College Cambridge a few decades ago and prompted an evacuation while college grounds were disinfected. Since that episode, unfortunately, traces of rot still plague Cambridge, and rumours abound that the yeast never really left. It has since been rumoured to have infected certain areas of government, and is causing rampant disease and brain rot in the upper echelons.

howling said...

HAHAHAHA!!! Fantastic post. I certainly need updates about key issues instead of going out partying ...

And this post about uniforms: cracked me up. To be quite honest, I do feel ridiculous wearing this faggy white uniform we are now required everytime we go to work. Scrubs are now abolished in our ITU in favour of this stiff, outdated, overly-starched white tunics with weird blue epaulette things. Apparently it makes us look more dignified and nursey.

More like Village People in that worst dance routine and that silliest pop video ever made, if you ask me. Who else wear this things in the post modern world? OMFG LOL. Meethinks it brings a lot of bugs as well...Thinkin' about infection control and stuff. They don't wash this bloomin' blue things we stick on our shoulder.

Good thing the laundry lost the only 3 pairs that I have. We are allowed to wear the more comfy scrubs whilst they look for funds somewhere to replace it with them 'campy' ones.


Blog_Doctor said...

Nice picture! I can't quite work out whether it's an academic gynaecologist or a lab-based neuropsychiatrist.

The white coat, crazy hair, glasses and manic expression suggest something exciting's just been discovered in the lab. The bowtie suggests gynaecology (or maybe just eccentricity). The finger-steepling suggests an air of superiority often found in psychiatrists, and the stethoscope suggests someone who wants to look like a doctor but possibly isn't.

Other than that, this is another good post, so keep up the good work! Medical students may be small cogs in the machine but they're pretty important ones as far as I'm concerned!