Protesting the correct use of descriptors simply distracts from the issues and alienates potential helpers

I Agree

Dear Editors

I refer to Dr Chivers’ rapid response where he states that “using language which blames reduced clinical hours for the collapse of primary care is not part of the solution.”

Perhaps it may be a difference in interpretation based on individual perspective but I note that at no point in the article did Mr O’Dowd say that GPs working less than FTE are the cause of the problem in primary care access, nor any idea that the solution to the GP crisis is to make part time GPs work more (or become full time).

Working less than full time is not unique to the medical profession nor is it a temporary fad; many of us will submit that this phenomenon is here to stay for generations to come.

However shaming commentators for using the phrases “part-time” or “less than FTE” (which some feel is inappropriate or offensive), simply distracts from the issue and obstructs attempts to help others understand and formulate possible solutions.

The fact is the GP numbers have been increasing albeit very very slowly since 2015 (in fact less than 1% over 7 years – ref 1) but those who (self-)reported working full time (or more) has dropped significantly and this definitely translates to reduced face-to-face clinical time, no matter how one spins it.

And there are many GP trainees who do not plan to offer many face-to-face sessions after they have completed training (ref 2).

When a person finds it more difficult to see a GP soon due to the lack of available time slots, compared to 7 years ago, so far as this person is concerned that is a shortage of GPs (even if the average GP headcount did not fall over this time).

At no point in this article was there any suggestion of measuring “value of a GP to the NHS by sessions per week”, nor GPs challenging part-time GPs (or any doctors) to “justify their personal choices”. There are very few commentators here who suggest doctors should not be allowed to work part-time; many of us are aware of personal/family needs and the financial impact resulting from working part-time, and understand that this decision was not taken lightly. I doubt most doctors would choose to work less than full time merely because their remuneration is not high enough.

Ultimately, any attempt to create outrage and quibbling over the perceived innuendos (despite the correctly and carefully worded reporting by Mr O’Dowd), will only cause more disengagement and alienation in those willing to assist in this issue.


No competing Interests: 
The following competing Interests: 
Electronic Publication Date: 
Monday, November 7, 2022 – 01:09
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Full Title: 

Protesting the correct use of descriptors simply distracts from the issues and alienates potential helpers

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Sydney, Australia
Orthopaedic Surgeon
BMJ: Additional Article Info: 
Rapid response

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