Letter: No GP deserves these patients

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The Independent Online
Sir: Jeremy Laurance ("Doctor, doctor, you're not on my wavelength", 20 August) suggests that the IQ of GPs needs to be downsized to improve the doctor-patient relationship. Far from it. The brightest and best are needed. The skill of the GP lies in picking out, in a seven-to-10-minute consultation, potentially serious pathology from the large amount of trivia that does present in the surgery.

Part of the answer lies in the better preparation of the would-be GP in medical school, where general practice has often been under-emphasised in favour of the more glamorous specialities. Part of the answer, I'm afraid, also lies with the patients. Because GPs are free and accessible 24 hours a day they are sometimes taken for granted.

I have been consulted for a broken fingernail, called out at 2am to settle a baby (because the father did not wish to disturb the baby's mother, who was asleep), called to help somebody get off the toilet, to prescribe medication for a patient's dog (the patient got free NHS prescriptions) and to put eye drops in at midnight - and asked to do one patient's VAT returns.

Add to this increasing violence towards GPs and their staff and tensions begin to develop in the doctor/patient relationship. Is it any wonder that when some of Britain's brightest have experiences like this, they stop and consider what they might expect to receive had they chosen the legal or business sector to train and work in?

Dr GARETH RICHARDS

Upper Layham, Suffolk

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