Our thanks to Nigel for this lengthy piece by Bel Mooney. Not a single mention of the GP service going downhill because of female doctors keener on working part-time than caring for their patients. Instead, waffle like this, ignoring gender:
Everybody agrees there is a crisis in primary care (GP practices), but not everybody agrees why. As long ago as 2015, 65 per cent of GPs worked part-time; by 2018, it was 69 per cent.
By 2018, record shortages led to ever-longer waiting times and made it unlikely that a patient would see the same doctor each time. By 2019, official data revealed that fewer than three in ten GPs worked full time.
An article about an issue that most people I know in my generation, with elderly relatives and some of the illnesses of late middle age, know very well. The almost disappearance of the “family doctor” and the difficulties of having to deal with different doctors on every contact and that of only getting phone consultations. Although I knew of the problem when I worked with the NHS up till 5 years ago, and experienced it through caring for relatives, the figures are pretty shocking.
“Everybody agrees there is a crisis in primary care (GP practices), but not everybody agrees why. As long ago as 2015, 65 per cent of GPs worked part-time; by 2018, it was 69 per cent.
By 2018, record shortages led to ever-longer waiting times and made it unlikely that a patient would see the same doctor each time. By 2019, official data revealed that fewer than three in ten GPs worked full time.”
I’m sure many can relate to the experiences in the article.
Of course the elephant in the room here is the changing “face” of GP practices of the past decades. Increasingly female. And with that a shifting culture, because as the female GPs suit themselves with “family friendly” hours of work, “work life balance” etc. inevitably it shifts the culture of work in a very well rewarded job. Understandably Male GPs also start to think in terms of their “work life balance” and probably resent being the “fall back” in a practice in which others suit themselves, the younger ones will also join in the culture of “work life balance”. As the article points out the result is a culture that doesn’t even mention “patients”, who get in the way of a comfortable work patterns.
And so my local practice is probably a “norm” with a late middle aged family doctor, which we all worry will retire, surrounded by an ever changing constellation of part time doctors who one tries to avoid because each contact means you having to explain everything again. The recent innovation of only getting phone appointments simply highlights this shift from a vocational profession to a very well paid job.
Though not as exalted as GPs the fact that I was surrounded by female employees with “family friendly” work patterns, in one case a Friday off to visit her boyfriend 200 miles away each weekend, influenced my decision to work part time too to support an elderly parent and ailing spouse. Why “hold the fort” when in actual fact I had more things to deal with than those not there on Mondays and Fridays?
I guess somewhere around the 50% of GPs being part time was the tipping point to the culture shifting.
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