The RCGP annual conference took place this week in Harrogate against the backdrop of increasing media attention on seven day opening of GP surgeries. Earlier in the week the Prime Minister shared his vision for patients to have the “chance to visit a GP in the evening or at weekends”. Concerns have been raised about how the current GP workforce would be able to meet this demand when we are struggling to cope with the current workload. I wonder how, as GP trainees, you feel about the prospect of working significantly different hours to those you “signed up for” when you accepted your place on the GP training scheme?
Another controversial idea was that floated by Dr Clare Gerada with regards the independent contractor status of GPs. Dr Gerada has suggested that GPs should be “salaried to the NHS”. An interesting summary of the pros and cons can be found in a document Dr Gerada published in 2009 for the RCGP. I suspect this will continue to be a contentious topic of debate that, if it comes to pass, may have a bearing on your own professional plans as a GP trainee. What would you choose?
Away from the conference, NICE have released “Diagnostic guidance” on the use of Faecal calprotectin. This is a test used to help differentiate between patients with irritable bowel syndrome and those with inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis). On the surface of it this would seem to be a useful test for GPs who frequently see patients with bowel symptoms. I would recommend having a look at the guideline – even though I am not entirely certain if the test is available in Barnsley yet.