In defence of GPs

Your correspondent S Parker (SA, November 5) asks when GPs stopped being doctors, implying that "they do not wish to administer to the sick and ill."

In this era of fake news and misinformation, as a recently retired GP I must put the record straight.

As a medical student, it was drummed into us that if you haven't got a pretty good idea what's wrong with the patient by the time they've finished talking, you're unlikely ever to find out!

This is an exaggeration but carries much truth - what the patient describes, clarified by their answers to your questions, tells you whether and where you need to examine them, and what, if any, tests to order.

In the olden days, as S Parker describes, this was all done in a surgery appointment. Then came Covid-19, when it would be grossly irresponsible to have a crowded waiting room for reasons that should be obvious.

So telephone and video consultations, already starting to be used by GPs faced with ever-increasing workloads, suddenly came into their own, enabling doctors to have face to face consultations only with those who needed them - which they have continued doing, and very busy they are too.

How do I know this? Apart from the medical journals and occasional chats with ex-colleagues, I am a patient too, and have had no problems getting appointments, blood tests etc at my local (excellent) surgery when needed - in a Covid-safe environment.

S Parker is far off the mark with his (or her) scurrilous allegations; hopefully this illustration of the changes that have been absolutely necessary to keep not just us, but the NHS as safe as can be while maintaining access to the GPs who undertake 90 per cent of all doctor-patient contacts will reassure anyone who might have found these allegations disturbing.

Dr Chris Barry

Belmont Crescent