I noticed consternation from GPs on Twitter this morning in connection to a comment that GPs were little more than glorified receptionists. I assumed they were overreacting. I get a podcast of your Great Lives programme and enjoy it. You come across as an intelligent, curious, and nuanced man.
Unable to view the offending piece online, I actually bought the print copy of today’s Times, and have read your article. I can see why they were annoyed.
I work as a GP in Tower Hamlets; I’ve worked in general practice for almost 25 years. It is quite clear to me that good GPs (and their practice teams) are a national treasure. Yes, we are able to keep up with changes in the science and the evidence. Indeed, we are the last of the generalists.
I am quite confident that what we do is important and irreplaceable, so I do not feel threatened by your piece. But it is quite wrong on a number of counts. I will trust that you wrote it in good faith.
I send you a good-natured invitation and challenge: come and shadow me for a day, watch what I do and what my colleagues do; meet some patients, ask them what they think. Meet our receptionists: ask them if they can do my job.
The Tredegar Practice
35 St Stephens Road
Saturday 23 June 2012
I sent the above as an email to The Times and posted a hardcopy to Matthew Parris, and left a message on an answerphone at The Times. I received an email from his PA, asking me to forward her a copy of the email.
This is the PA’s reply:
“I shall see that he gets it on his return. He is unlikely to take up your offer to shadow you because there are not enough hours in a day when he is in London.”
And my reply to the PA:
“I quite understand Matthew is a busy man. Please pass on my suggestion that in future if he decides to write about a given topic that he take time in advance to check how things actually work on the ground. Otherwise he will lose the respect of those he misrepresents.”
For a summary and few excerpts from Matthew Parris’ Opinion piece, Click Here
Tuesday 3 July 2012
I am pleased to say that Matthew Parris has written, accepting the invitation to visit us in Bow. I am thankful for this. All I ask is that people investigate with curiosity, reflect, and then judge.
20 October 2012
I am writing up my year’s work in preparation for my annual appraisal. I am including this letter in my portfolio. I should add that Matthew Parris did visit us for a rather full day in July. He was a gentleman; he watched and listened carefully. He wrote two subsequent articles, and was scrupulous in disguising where he had been.
I may write something at a later date about this.