AntiGP banter hindering recruitment into general practice top doctor warns

first_imgMedical students are being put off becoming GPs by a culture of “banter” that stigmatises general practice as “soft” and “unglamorous”, the head of the profession has warned.Maureen Baker, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said the “systematic denigration” of family doctors was having a noticeable impact on the number medics choosing to pursue the vocation as a career.The situation is being compounded, she said, by specialist hospital doctors, responsible for mentoring trainee medics, who too often “bad mouth” general practice. GP England is currently experiencing an estimated shortfall of 3,325 GPs, with12 per cent of posts unfilled in 2015, according to the royal college, which estimates the deficit will rise to 8,371 by 2020 if the current trend continues.The difficulty of securing a GP appointment is also exacerbating the crisis in increasingly overwhelmed accident and emergency departments, where waiting times are spiraling.Professor Baker said the culture had not improved in the last 20 years.“I’m shocked – if anything it’s got worse,” she said.“It’s very concerning, when we think GPs and our teams conduct 90 per cent of all patient contacts, that this “banter” is yet another barrier we are up against when trying to recruit enough GPs to ensure a safe and robust service for the future of patient care.“It is so widespread and systematic that if you are interested in general practice you don’t admit to it, you cover it up,” she added. Aspiring GPs often feel they can’t reveal their ambitionsCredit:Telegraph The RCGP president said she had heard numerous anecdotes from junior doctors who had expressed an interest in becoming GPs only to be told “don’t waste your talent” by senior hospital specialists.“These kinds of comments are hugely powerful from senior doctors,” she said.“But this is a stereotype of general practice, where we are increasingly having to deal with patients who have multiple problems.“We have to be expert medical generalists.”Professor Baker’s intervention was echoed by Sir Simon Wessely, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, who said careers in psychiatric medicine are also the target of negative stereotyping among students.“It’s not that we can’t take a joke, but often the banter directed at psychiatrists isn’t a joke on us, it’s a joke on our patients and that isn’t acceptable,” he said.“People with mental disorders, just like those with physical disorders, deserve the best minds to find new treatments and provide the best care.“This behavior flies in the face of everything we are doing across the health service, and society, to give our patients with mental health problems parity of esteem to those with physical health problems.”Sir Simon called for an end to the “sinister” trend, but said neither royal college was calling for any form of censorship.“It’s about fostering respect between healthcare professionals for the specific roles we each bring to medicine, but also for our patients, whatever condition they present with.”He acknowledged denigration of certain disciplines is “part of tradition within medicine”, but questioned the logic of protecting a tradition that “ultimately puts our patients at risk.” If you are interested in general practice you don’t admit to it, you cover it upProfessor Maureen Baker, Chair of the Royal College of GPs Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.last_img

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