When I’m not carrying out my Chair duties at NHS Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group, I work as a GP, seeing patients and supporting my practice at Bentley.
I know from personal experience the increasing workload that Doncaster’s GPs have and the difficulty of attracting newcomers to replace those who are retiring.
Newly qualified doctors often prefer to work in other roles as doctors where they live, or in big cities, which in our case means many choose Sheffield over Doncaster. So we’re having to think of new ways of selling the benefits of embarking on a career at a local doctors’ surgery.
That’s why I’m delighted to highlight a clever way that a Doncaster GP colleague of mine, Dr Dom Patterson, is doing just that.
Dr Patterson, based at the town’s Burns Practice, has used the easy availability of social media to develop a new campaign to talk up the role of GPs and the first-rate work that’s carried out at the borough’s 43 GP practices. He’s recognised that the media and doctors’ professional organisations have highlighted how much the workload of a GP has increased, but the downside is that potential GPs are being put off from joining the profession by negative coverage.
He’s so passionate about being a GP in Doncaster that he’s developed his own blog – whygp.uk – to highlight the positives of being a community based doctor. He describes the site as ‘An island of positivity in a sea of negativity’ and encourages GPs from across the country to use it to share their share rewarding personal experiences of providing care in local communities.
A key principle of the blog is that it is honest and not misleading. General practice is hard, he says, but there are wonderful positives that it’s worth reminding GPs of and it also a way of helping those thinking about becoming a GP to discover them.
The blog has featured in Pulse, a national magazine for GPs, describing it as a ‘refreshing counter-voice to the doom and gloom’, and placing Dr Patterson in their top 50 most influential GPs in the country because of his innovative approach. His #whygp hashtag is also well used on Twitter.
Dr Patterson is a refreshing example of someone who loves being a GP and isn’t scared to say so. He’s also a local lad, his dad served at RAF Finningley and he’s a former pupil of Rossington’s St Joseph’s Primary and Bessacarr’s McAuley Catholic High School. After training at Leeds University he became a doctor in the RAF before returning to his home town, where he’s been practicing for the past eight years. He’s also heavily involved in training new GPs through his role with Health Education England.
Doncaster is an up and coming borough and I have no doubt that initiatives like whygp, and other incentives, will help attract new GPs to what, in my opinion, is a very rewarding and fulfilling career.