General Practitioners, Heal thyself! The role of advocacy for preparing us to deliver care in the future
The old adage that in an emergency, one must put on their own oxygen mask first, before putting on a dependents, has an important meaning for general practitioners too. Now, more than ever, GPs are finding themselves working in resource restrained and stretched environments. We are burning out, or retiring early, and we are failing to replenish ourselves at a rate commensurate with sustainable care. And when we look at why this might be, we realise, we are ONE group in health who do NOT have a truly independent organisation that advocates for us, as GPs. We have been essentially cast to the hinterland to care for everyone else, but ourselves. We have forgotten to put on our own oxygen mask entirely.
My presentation will discuss why, in failing to have independent representation, we have failed to protect our conditions, our value and our profession. I will also discuss how we can reverse the problem, and how by unifying our voice, we can overcome many of the political obstacles that have lead to our current crisis.
I will examine the different advocacy models and why general practitioners have struggled with this historically, and how successive governments have used that heterogeneity to “divide and conquer” and leave general practitioners being viewed as the “poor cousins” of medicine. I will demonstrate why we must put our own oxygen mask on first, and that the only people to save us, is ourselves. GPs must ultimately heal themselves.