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Sunday, 17 October 2021

Doing my little bit

We’re short of doctors in the UK, by which I mean GPs (general practitioners) who provide local domestic coverage throughout the country. Not surprising, really. Many GPs were from overseas and Brexit, overnight, made them unwelcome. Now the government is discovering you can’t manufacture a GP overnight.

Since GPs’ waiting rooms were an admirable location for breeding and spreading the covid virus the former face-to-face consultations were put on hold, replaced by a 10-minute phone call or, if you were lucky, a Skype/Zoom exchange. Often it took time for an appointment and those who thought the pandemic had magically ceased to be a threat started behaving nastily towards medical receptionists when they discovered attending to their ingrowing toenail wouldn’t happen tomorrow. And that a phone call didn’t cut the mustard.

I beg to differ. My medical situation has moved away from my mouth and now revolves round the state of my blood. It might be iron-poor or something worse and it’s being discussed telephonically for the moment. I was asked to stand by my mobile (much clearer than my landline) for a call from a doctor with a surname that was clearly of foreign origin.

He needed to impart a good deal of technical information which he did à toute vitesse. Luckily his vocabulary and his grasp of English syntax were a good deal better than mine even though I tend to believe I’m no slouch in these matters. When he’d finished I felt constrained to say: “The clarity you’ve brought to a complicated and contingent subject is absolutely superb. I’ve understood everything. And I hope I can say this without sounding patronising.

He laughed wryly. “Given the bashing doctors are presently getting in the media, I’ll take any kind of compliment.”

Good on yer, mate.


  1. I'm so glad that you had such a good and informative call with a doctor. I liked reading the pleasant conversation you had at the end. It is so good to acknowledge when something has gone well these days.

    1. robin andrea: I worried that saying I didn't want to appear patronising would, nevertheless, leave me in just that state. Race is so tricky these days. But I did so want to thank him for informing me at the highest possible level.

  2. Well at least you (and I in Ashford) can communicate by phone with a GP. Would you believe that the whole of Romney Marsh, Hythe and Folkestone does not have a single GP resident in a surgery.

    I an not sure that Brexit has anything to do with it as non UK health workers are still welcomed and needed (where would the NHS be without them?) Many of our own doctors, after expensive training in this country emigrate to places like Australia and New Zealand where there are better conditons and better pay. My own daughter-in-Oz has an English GP who went there precisely for those reasons. He says he and his family will never return to the UK except for holidays.

    1. Avus: Quite true. An experienced Australian GP earns "about" $350,000 (£189,000) which is probably some £50,000 more than the salaried UK equivalent. However, the situation is blurred by the fact that an experienced UK GP is likely to be unsalaried, earning his crust as a partner in the practice and thus sharing the profits thereof.

      One point from the General Medical Council: Nationals from the European Economic Area (EEA) no longer benefit from automatic recognition of professional qualifications. In fact non-UK doctors working in the UK are unlikely to be from the EU anyway. Going by the surnames of the locums that have worked for my GP practice their origins suggest a much wider radius.

      Interesting that there is such a wide pay discrepancy compared with Australia. Here's a quote from The Australian: "Australia has a more than adequate number of doctors (3.3 per 1000 population, compared with a two to three average for developed countries) but there is a preference to work in the centres and to become a specialist; this has resulted in fewer GPs in training programs."

      Which suggests that Brit-tempting vacancies might be for remote outposts with only dingos for company. When you say "better conditions" I trust you weren't implying higher summer temperatures. No thanks for that.

      England has a much lower doctor to population ratio than comparable EU countries, with just 2.8 doctors per 1,000 people, in comparison with an EU average of 3.7, according to the BMA. ... With more GPs and hospital doctors quitting over the summer, the shortage has risen to 50,191, according to the BMA.

      I for one would be willing to pay higher taxes if I knew that the extra cash would go straight to the NHS. Alas, Tory ideology embraces "no tax increases" since it's far easier to cut welfare expenditure. Looking forward to a congenial winter among mask-free idiots

  3. Hoping for the best with your blood issue.

  4. And good for you for giving the man due praise. No complaints with the treatment we receive from our local surgery, we shall collect our flu and booster jabs tomorrow.
    Hope all will be well with you Mr R.

  5. Colette/Share My Garden: On April 4, 2017, I posted Daughter/Dad Chat, which dealt with the intimate subject of endoscopy. On November 8, at the early hour of 08.10, I shall undergo endoscopy in reverse. I am told a medic will be standing by with an analgesic, should it be needed.