Opinion

Fear not, Jose, you can always be a GP


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Image by Aleksandr Oslpov at Flickr

Come on over Jose, the pitch went bald a long time ago but the game is still on

Jose Mourinho’s sacking today got me thinking back to my VTS, when I said that being a GP was like being the goalkeeper for Manchester United.   I received a withering look from the programme director and so that was the end of that.  But I still think there’s mileage in this.

Most of the time we sit there doing things that don’t matter very much: twiddling with single figures on a blood pressure or discussing statins with people whom my heart says don’t really need them that much.

But a few times a day a GP steps in and makes the equivalent of a really great footballing save. Spotting the sick child, a cancer or weeding out the person who is wretchedly depressed – these are all the GP equivalent of football thrills when we mentally jump up and dive.

Maybe with these similarities there is even a job opportunity here for Jose.

Being a GP is also a game of two halves (morning and evening surgery); GPs and footballers are always in the media and Jose has often been accused of playing dull, defensive football in order to grind out results which pretty similar to QOF.

GP salaries are also all over the papers but no-one every offered any of us a couple of million for a transfer to another CCG. There are no orange segments between surgeries or rousing mid-time talks from managers; there are no press interviews when we get to say the surgery was tougher than expected or unfair – but then patients aren’t our opponents either.

The problem is far too many referees.

GPs do have the moral high ground over footballers. As a profession we’re not tainted with stories of cocaine-fuelled binges or communicating with the public via racist, sexist or homophobic tweets.

There are also a million GP appointments a day – almost twice as many as the premiership stadium capacity of 770,000 and Anfield has 28,000 people on waiting list for a season ticket which means it’s harder to see a football match than to get an appointment with your GP.

GPs could benefit from few things from football: a humble mistake could result in a 3-surgery ban instead of a prolonged investigation by the GMC.  We could open on Saturdays – although we would need to close for training all week.   Patients who cough dramatically (simulation) to get antibiotics cand those who are rude or shouty at receptionists could be shown yellow cards.

What we really need is a GP superstar: the Thierry Henri of primary care. Someone who thrills the public with great goals or unfeasible acts of diagnosis; ringing the patient at 8 pm on a Friday just to check they’re ok or just popping in  on an elderly person on their way home.

The single-hander soldiering on who has known their patients for 25 years, the one with tricks up their sleeve from years of experience and not just blindly following guidelines, the one running behind because they’re listening and giving people extra time, the one still doing their own out of hours.

These are the heros of GP, the ones making brilliant saves every day but they’re the ones the media don’t see.  They’re out there seeing patients right now.  They’re not being screened and replayed and then commented upon on by pundits on tv but they’re real GPs.

So that withering look 13 years ago says everything about how me and my big northern mouth aren’t going to win any medals with the RCGP. But come on over, Jose; the grass went bald a long time ago but we’re keeping the ball on this pitch.

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