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Dear Santa

Still practising

Chris Preece

Tuesday, 18 December 2018

AdobeStock_93881129_santa.jpgDear Father Christmas,

I hope your back’s feeling a bit better (and that you’re still doing those exercises I gave you).  I think I’ve been a good boy this year, though it’s my appraisal tomorrow, so you might be better asking them. In any case, here are all the things I’d like to have for Christmas - as ever anything you feel inclined to give me would be greatly appreciated:

  • Never to hear the word “Brexit” again. Really, the whole country can descend into a dystopian hellscape for all I care. We can all run around as if we’re in some sort of fan re-enactment of V for Vendetta, so long as I never have to listen to another ridiculous politician who’s only just discovered that we do quite a bit of business with France.
  • To actually have an extra 5000 GPs in the UK by 2020, rather than empty promises about training more. I’m trying to train my dog to do tricks, but he still just sits on the sofa looking confused. (And he’s not even meant to be on the sofa.)
  • On that note, I’d like some proper appreciation for my colleagues – doctors, nurses and beyond - who’ve come to work here from abroad. We’d already be in big trouble without them, and yet they’ve been confronted not just with the B-word, but a deliberately “hostile environment”. It’s like you popping down the chimney with all the presents, only to be greeted by a guy with a pitchfork demanding you get out of his house – despite them covering the house in decorations and a big “Stop here Santa” sign.
  • I’d like to have a health secretary that’s more interested in healthcare than his iPhone.
  • Also, once they’ve looked up from their screen, perhaps someone could explain to them that much of the benefit from seeing a GP comes from an established relationship built up over several years. So, any model that involves seeing an increasingly random selection of medically allied staff doesn’t really cut it. Nor does any model that involves seeing a different GP every time. Convenience is nice, but continuity is king.
  • And anyone who’s ever wept in front of another human being knows it just isn’t the same over Skype.
  • I’d like someone else to pay for my indemnity fees.
  • Sorry. Just to clarify the above. I’d like someone else to pay my indemnity fees. That doesn’t mean I’d like to have the cost of my indemnity fees removed from my income, and then be forced into an indemnity scheme that only offers me partial cover and leaves me having to take out additional indemnity as well. You wouldn’t think this would need explaining, but apparently it does.
  • Whilst we’re clarifying things, obviously I don’t really want the country to descend into a dystopian hellscape. That was hyperbole. The sort of thing people put on buses, but don’t mean at all.
  • I’d like for none of my colleagues nationally to ever again have need of the GP Health Service, or the Practitioner Health Programme. Failing that, I hope they hear of, and access these early – I don’t want any more doctors taking their lives.
  • I want a daily reminder that actually, despite making great hay out of all the failings, I still pretty much love my job. The rare and extraordinary privilege of being a part of so many people’s lives and stories. Becoming part of a community and working for the benefit of many. The knowledge that whilst the system I work in is increasingly broken, it does at least remain free at the point of delivery, ensuring that we don’t need to set up charities just to pay off people’s medical debts.
  • Actually Santa, any chance you could pay off all those debts?
  • Sorry. I forgot. “Santa doesn’t do cash or politics” – that’s what you said last year when I asked for a million pounds and a new health secretary.
  • Though – you did do the latter, it’s just it turned out to be a whole Monkey’s Paw type deal. Such is The Wisdom of Santa I guess.
  • I’d like to know the secret of your longevity. You are easily the oldest of my patients.
  • A chocolate orange as usual. (Plain, obviously, none of this “popping candy” nonsense, even I have standards.)
  • World Peace
  • Really, if you could please persuade the dog not to go on the sofa, that would be great. (If you can train reindeer to fly, you can handle one slightly silly mongrel.)
  • A truly wonderful Christmas for all who read this and beyond.

Thanks Santa, you are an utterly incredible human being/saint/spirit/legendary mythical creature.

Until next year,


Author's Image

Chris Preece

Chris has worked as a GP Partner in North Yorkshire since 2004, and still relishes the peculiar challenge of never quite knowing what the next person through the door is going to present with. He was the chair of his local Practice Based Commissioning Group, and when this evolved into a CCG he joined the Governing Body, ultimately leaving in April 2015. He continues to work with the CCG in an advisory capacity. When not being consumed by all things medical, Chris occupies himself by writing, gaming, and indulging the whims of his children. He has previously written and performed in a number of pantomimes and occupied the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square. Tragically, his patients no longer tell him he looks too young to be a doctor.
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