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by Our GP partner in practice
31 August 2007

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The week the balloon went up

In the second installment of our secret GP partner’s diary series, we find our insider is almost ready to burst …

The last two weeks have been eventful at the surgery. The balloon has certainly gone up, in more ways than one!

From an enjoyable perspective, last weekend we trailed our tribe to the West Country Hot Air Balloon fiesta. Sadly, the lottery ticket I purchased – with a prize of a ride in a balloon – didn’t win. So my escape route was thwarted!

From a rather more traumatic viewpoint, the balloon went up, so to speak, in our overcrowded practice car park. Trying to fit 30 cars into 20 spaces is tricky (a difficult equation to reconcile!).

Unfortunately, one of our new registrars inadvertently “brushed” her car against one of our nurse’s cars. After a couple of days of rather difficult conversations, and some tears, my diplomacy skills were at breaking point. Thankfully the situation is now stable, and everyone is speaking again.

Money matters
The registrar’s contracts have now finally been signed, after some tweaking was needed, since the pay scales differed from the registrar’s understanding. The internet super highway was buzzing with emails zipping between the surgery, the deanery and the primary care trust (PCT). The situation is still fluid, as the contracts have been signed with provisos.

The media has been awash once more with GPs’ salaries. One of our dailies reported that out-of-hours was to become a battleground for the government. One of the GP rags reported that managers and patients were in the best position to judge a GP’s worth. These are interesting days  ……

Sticking needle
One of our battles lately has been in organising our flu campaign. Each year, our district nurses and health-visitor teams have been involved in administering flu jabs to the housebound and those in residential care. Our health visitors recently informed us that we couldn’t claim for jabs given by them, as they are PCT employees. A minefield that is proving difficult to negotiate.

Property problems
Our monthly practice meeting fast approaches. The talk will be of our search for the Holy Grail: new land for a new surgery. We currently work from three converted houses (none are joined, two are separated by an inch that cannot be bridged, and the third is down the road). Land is scarce, and property developers are two a penny! An interesting circle to square.

Our meetings have a life span of 3–4 hours. During this time, 2–3 of our salaried doctors bridge the gap. This month’s meeting is a warm-up for our more strategic quarterly away day. Often held on a Saturday, we’ll be mulling over the decisions that will shape our destiny!

I hope someone brings a bottle! And maybe balloons?