Quick Chat with … Dr Diana Hutchinson

Today we sit down for a quick chat with Dr Diana Hutchinson, who is working to promote skill mix in general practice.

Why did you choose to work in general practice?

I had an ambition to be a GP since I was a schoolchild. I guess GPs were the only type of doctor I had personally encountered.

When I eventually graduated, I worked for a highly respected consultant, who became president of a Royal College. This erudite man refused to give me a reference for a GP training scheme, because he thought general practice was second-rate medicine.

He was speaking from ignorance, as he had never worked a single day in general practice. We need to make sure these barriers between primary and secondary care become ancient history.

What’s your most unforgettable memory from general practice?

That’ll be driving to my first home visit, roof wound down and music turned up. I had escaped from those magnolia hospital walls. I was going to see patients in their own environment and I was hoping to practice high-quality holistic medicine.

Would I choose a GP career again? You bet!

What’s the most useful thing you have learnt as a GP?

Mmm…it’s to do with human nature. General practice is a very rare opportunity to meet people from all walks of life. Not just to meet them, but to get to know them. Some patients disclose to you their deepest, darkest fears and some of them make you rock with laughter and joy.

Work/life balance – is it possible or is it a myth?

I know a reasonable work/life balance is possible, as long as you are not greedy about money. As the parent of four children, the key for me was a good housekeeper. Why would any doctor spend precious spare time doing cleaning and laundry?

I devised an application form for our home-help, with free-text space for applicants to describe their domestic skills, childcare experience and voluntary work. Then I paid good wages to impressive, flexible staff, who stayed with our family for many years.

What is the biggest challenge general practice is currently facing?

Our biggest challenge is overwhelming demand, so I now work to promote skill mix in primary care. Practice nurses are key, because they can offer continuity of care, especially for people with long term conditions.

I feel very strongly that novice practice nurses need guidance in their new role, with protected time every week to discuss their patients. I look forward to a day when nurses who are entering general practice will receive as much support as doctors who are doing the same.

Diana Hutchinson, Author of “Long Term Conditions: a Manual for General Practice Nurses”

Dr Diana Hutchinson FRCGP has over 30 years experience as a GP. She was a GP trainer and an MRCGP examiner. She is the author of “Long Term Conditions: a Manual for General Practice Nurses”.

£4 from every sale goes to the charity Médecins sans Frontières (MSF). To find out more visit: www.LTCpracticenurses.co.uk.

  • Dr Julie Barker
    Posted at 16:40h, 23 December Reply

    Great comments Diana. I’m completely with you and unfortunately year that many consultants retain similar views of general practice.
    Surely one solution would be to make it mandatory for both hospital consultants and GPs to shadow each other for 1 week a year. The learning and myth dispensing power of this would be immense, propensity for improved communications much increased.

  • Kirsche Elms
    Posted at 17:50h, 04 February Reply

    Just reading your book, it’s fantastic!

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