Everybody has an opinion about their GP

Do you know that situation – usually at a party – when someone tells you what they do for a living, and mention a cool sounding job description like ‘product innovation manager’ or ‘advertising account executive’? I always want to know: what does that mean and what do you actually do?

Well, people never ask me what I do when I say I’m a GP. Instead, they usually tell me what their GP does. Or did. Or said.

Everybody always knows what I do, and that’s not surprising because the Australian general practice statistics are mind-blowing: Over 134 million GP consultations take place each year. Every year almost 9 out of 10 Australians make at least one contact with a general practitioner.

Professor Max Kamien said in the latest BEACH study:

“Mothers, children, the elderly and those with chronic conditions, such as diabetes, asthma and hypertension, have many more contacts than that. As a result of these personal contacts everyone has a view about general practice. Ministers of Health have been known to base their views about general practice on their contact with their own GP.

I’m privileged to have a job that’s smack-bang in the middle of life. One could indeed argue that we’re specialists in life, as we deal with just about everything: mental health, paediatrics, cancer, skin disorders, respiratory problems, grief, heart failure, domestic violence, emergencies, pregnancy, end-of-life care, immunisations, screening… you name it.

The latests RACGP commercial tells the story of diversity – the diversity of GPs, their patients and their conditions. I love the commercial because it captures in 60 seconds the wide range of issues people bring to the consulting room of the family doctor.

So if you want to find out what really happens in my office, have a look at this video.

13 thoughts on “Everybody has an opinion about their GP

  • Excellent, Edwin, and how true – we as GP’s see it all. It’s a pity that we are usually undervalued, compared with “SBS Specialists”= “Specific Body System” (not TV), by governments and others.

    I say – “The SBS Specialist has to know a vast amount about a small area of medicine. The GP Specialist has to know a large amount about a vast area of medicine!”
    Cheers to all,
    Jim Griffin

    Liked by 1 person

  • Im not sure about the whole ‘specialist in life’ angle, sounds a bit conceited and could place stigma on those gps who are a little overstretched.
    Maybe ‘specialist for life’ would be better suited?


  • Not as condescending as the original adverts, but there is still a disconnect between why should I be a member of the college and what a GP does. I am still not sure how ‘a good GP never stops learning’ ties in to being a ‘member of the college’.

    for some ‘real world’ comments have a look at these…

    like this question:
    Can any GP on this forum ( Full-Time, Part-time, Solo, Small group practice, Corporate) tell me how being a member of the RACGP has enhanced their medical career ?





  • If you look at Medical Observer and Australian Doctor (login required) articles (I tried posting links but they are automatically disabled)… and the real world response to the RACGP campaign.

    if you cut and paste the following into your search engines you shoukld find the recent articles
    and racgp-ad-spending-spree-continues

    questions like these:
    Ok, well, trying not to be too negative, will someone please explain why telling the public what they already know, and have almost certainly personally experienced, is advocating for the profession..?

    Could you please enlighten me: where in this Ad campaign is the a reference to , and I quote you,” is to get the public to put pressure on the politicians and health bureaucrats who are “freezing” us out of existence, to respect our efforts a little better.”

    and even
    Can any GP on this forum ( Full-Time, Part-time, Solo, Small group practice, Corporate) tell me how being a member of the RACGP has enhanced their medical career ?

    and comments such as
    Much better that the cockamamie idiocy of the last lot.
    However, I am still not sure how ‘a good GP never stops learning’ ties in to being a ‘member of the college’.


  • I have had the same GP for 20 years (I am just turning 60).

    I recently had a minor health crisis, and (thanks to some input from the surgeon) I find that my GP has been ‘sub-optimal’, and detrimental to my health, for many years.

    I was quite happy with my GP: friendly, sympathetic, ‘new-agey’, always lots of tablets …

    One day, I was in much more pain than usual, and saw a different GP. 2 days later I was in hospital for, not quite emergency, but ‘expedited’ surgery.
    (Saw the GP on a Monday – home from surgery on the Friday – surely some kind of tribute to the Australian system).

    The tablets had been masking the issue for many months, if not years. I questioned my GP afterwards, and they were alarmingly evasive.
    My wife keeps detailed financial records (ie: GP visits), and all scans and stuff. My GP made claims that were inconsistent with the truth, and suggested they were supported by their records. Said records not produced (although theoretically on the PC 18 inches away).

    I have no intention of taking any action, beyond not consulting them again.

    BUT: how do I find a GP I can trust? After so long with one GP that I liked, I dread having to traipse around clinic to clinic trying to decide if the person i just talked to is more than just a smiling pill-pusher.


    • Sometimes its the fresh perspective of another doctor that brings things to light.

      As for the inconsistent records, another doctor can ask for copies of tests, especially if you know the approximate dates they were performed.


      • Interesting. Could I ask for copies of those tests?

        I have not done so, but I would be interested to know if I can request copies of tests performed on me, and paid for by me.


        • Well it has been tested in court – the “results” belong to the practice the doctor works/worked at.
          You can request them, but it can be denied but there is a reasonable obligation to have someone explain the results.
          There is a reasonable expectation that any results that practice has on you – be transferred to a new doctor – however, the cost or loss of value to the original practice can be charged to you (this mostly applies when requesting results from corporate medical practices, who place a monetary value on the notes, this can be in the hundreds of dollars).
          Is there another doctor at the same practice you could ask? If you have a new doctor/new practice can you have them request the old files? If not then the radiology and pathology companies may supply the results to the new doctor – usually at not cost.
          There is not thew right for a patient to have their results in the “raw” form.


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