Reflections in the gloom

Since I gashed my leg a month ago I’ve been back to the surgery on average every three days to have the wound inspected, treated and dressed. The surgery is very busy, the wound was entirely my fault and I’d have forgiven any health professional for being exasperated with me. But they haven’t been. The nurses have treated me with great kindness and concern, have fitted me into shockingly overfull schedules and when that hasn’t been possible they’ve come in early to see me. On the three occasions the wound has become infected they’ve had to interrupt a doctor to look at it and prescribe antibiotics and the doctors have been just as kind.
I went in this morning and found a thoughtful, sad letter from the best GP ever * to say that he is leaving.
On the back of the letter are ‘Reflections on my decision in the context of the NHS’, including:
Since becoming a GP in 2007 it has been extremely hard to watch as the pressures we work under are increased year by year. In addition I feel that the government has been clever and in subtle ways has been cutting funding without making it obvious. This has led to huge financial strains in primary care as well.
Speaking as a GP, I feel I have faced relentless criticism from the government, who I feel want you the public to see me as the reason for the failures of what are poorly thought out, under-funded government policies. I do not believe the problems stem from incompetent, lazy, overpaid doctors and nurses but more from under-funding and poor, central management decisions.
It is no coincidence that I stepped down from working as a partner last year {he became an employee of the practice instead} the day after the government inspectors undertook their mandatory inspection. It is ironic that the preparations to demonstrate that we were providing good care took so much of my time and energy away from providing you with just that care. The experience pushed me over the edge at a point where I was reflecting on my future as a GP.

Thank you for the words of support you have consistently expressed to me when the headlines have hit, as they have gone a long way to keeping my morale up and reminded me of what is really important – looking after you. I want you to know that we need you to defend us, possibly now more than ever before, and I hope I can count on you to stand up for the NHS when the time is right.
Sometimes you have asked me what can be done, to which I always reply that there is still hope for the NHS and passion in defending it. As well as writing to our local MP to express your concerns, there are many organisations which are coordinating the defence of the NHS: Patients4NHS, 38 Degrees and the NHS Support Federation. Perhaps you could watch some of their documentaries which describe the truths about the crisis in the NHS in order to understand the challenges we face.
* I’m lucky not to have many interactions with doctors but I have been astounded by the level of subtle holistic care he provides and I'm gutted that the best GP I've ever had can't take any more.

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