Recently I realised I was paying £10,000 a year just to get out of bed. While most of this is defence subs, I had to ask myself: could I afford the £500 for the college and was it value for money?
I was briefly tempted by joining the RSM instead: it has a nice café and a quirky events programme.
But then I did an honest appraisal of my motives and it became all too clear. The RSM is convenient for John Lewis. So why pay £500 a year when I might want to save that for the holy grail of middle class retail itself?
Besides, the RSM is like most of these places – a bit deferential with the Harley Street overflow. Mr Dr Claire Davies hates anything too posh and will refuse to go in and I have no friends in high places so I’d be left sitting in the leather armchair alone and being ignored by the much more important doctors.
The British Journal of General Practice was one of the big factors that toppled me from the college. Why have a load of journals in unopened wrappers piling up in the hall? What’s in this month’s edition? How GP burnout doesn’t affect whether they order a PSA. Why does that matter? Who funded this study (I hope no-one). How is that relevant to me?
Apart from the subscription and the journal, there’s also the shiny and expensive 30 Euston Squre. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t think they should operate out of the back of a cash and carry. I guess they need a home commensurate with their status and all that but did we need something quite so state of the art?
There’s always a nuance to everything and I don’t think they’re 100% bad. I’ll never be a big name columnist because if they approached me I’d probably go all humble and see their point of view and back down. I feel sorry for Maureen because she must spend every evening having to read all those newspaper articles rubbishing GPs and having to compose a response. (I’m starting to feel guilty now).
On and other hand, I didn’t like ‘Put Patients First’ because that implies they were previously also-rans and I don’t think being a GP is the best job in the world but there isn’t space to go into that here.
All l in all, when I added up the cost, the value I wasn’t getting from the journal, the faux-Greek building with its silently gliding lifts, I decided it wasn’t worth the cash. I’m not sure they represent my priorities right now which are: why are my defence subs so high when I didn’t do anything wrong, avoiding getting sued and trying to stay calm and patient so I’m still nice to everyone.
So even though I feel a tiny bit remorseful and even nervous about writing this because I’m just an ordinary GP who fears the cold draughts from the corridors of power on the back of my neck, I’m still not signing back up.
So that was it, I resigned, just a humble ‘I resign’ email. No epistle or rant or explanation that got 1.2 million likes on Facebook – I was too shy. They took their last direct debit and it all went silent. Don’t hit me, I’ll go quietly, I said.
Then someone rang me up out of the blue to instruct me I was never to use the letters MRCGP after my name ever again. The caller took the trouble to spell out that this included business cards, email footers and whatever else.
I am apparently allowed to put it on my CV but only in a certain way, with the year I passed the exam in brackets after my name.
Ok, I see their point again – how can I claim I’m a member of a college when I’m not? Being a coward, I readily agreed instead of being a smartarse and asking if I could tattoo it on my forehead.
But how come Jamie Oliver gets to be FRCGP? He’s only got 2 GCSEs. I hope Jamie has passed his CSA and pays his subs.
So what’s the answer? How could I be tempted to rejoin? Maybe if defence subs went down and I had a bit more spare cash; if I saw less plush and more spit and polish and if the journal could lighten up and be fun.
And maybe if they could open John Lewis next door I could be persuaded.
Image from Fernando Butcher at Flickr