It’s been a rough few weeks for general practice. Attacked by the press and politicians with a largely fictional narrative, our voice of reason has lacked an outlet. The result? Despondency, discontent, disenfranchisement. This is all part of the blame game, a familiar tool in business and politics.
No GP appointments. Cancelled hip operations. Delayed chemotherapy. Successive governments who for years have failed to listen to or act on the concerns of NHS staff cannot be at fault: the blame game must begin again. This time we’re in the firing line.
Of course, the opinion of the public couldn’t be more different than that reported in the media. The 2021 GP Survey, published only in July, showed 83% had a good experience of their GP practice, 96% had confidence and trust in their healthcare professional, 94% said their needs were met at their last appointment. Even 82% said they were satisfied with the appointment offered and accepted it.
But this blame game happens all the time. It is often insidious, shifting blame onto organisations or individuals. Health inequalities - what is your practice doing to stop the ever-growing gap? But the largest determinant of health is deprivation. Housing, education, social support are the key to improving health inequalities, not a GP appointment. Obesity – it is the individual’s fault through gluttony and sloth. The idea absolves the food industry who have relentlessly marketed ever more unhealthy, addictive products, and retail stores that push them to make profit.
And then we have the environment – the most pressing health and social issue in human history. I was interested to read that the term carbon footprint was conceived as part of a $250 million PR campaign by BP to shift responsibility for climate change away from companies getting rich by extracting and burning fossil fuels and on to individuals using resources as part of normal daily life.
However, this is the point at which the blame game needs to stop because we all have a part to play in the solution. Governments and corporations must take action at COP26 later this month, but healthcare needs to change as well.
What can we do in general practice? Actually, we can do a lot.
The environment, illness, health inequalities, social issues, are all intertwined. General practice was built on understanding beyond the disease, beyond even the patient.
For us the change required is small, not great, it can save time and money not take more, it can improve our patients lives and could help reignite general practice’s morale and sense of purpose. All we have to do is think a little more green.
It doesn’t have to be hard. We all have to start somewhere. So why not start with our new free course, The Green GP.
Join us on Tuesday 12th October, 6pm where we will share ideas on how practices and how we practice, can improve patients’ lives and make healthcare sustainable in the future.