The Passable GP versus the Fat Doctor

This doctor, whose describes herself as a “passable GP” on her Instagram profile, has since deleted her comments. And I’m not going to spend any time focusing on her, but rather some of the deeply troubling messages buried within this post.

First of all, I want to acknowledge that GPs are struggling. You may not know this, but there is a massive shortage of us within the UK. Over the last decade, many retired early, moved into different careers, or dropped the number of the sessions they worked. Why? Because since 2008, this government and their austerity measures have decimated general practice. I personally believe they have always intended to privatize the NHS, and this is how they planned to do it.

First tear down primary care, which is the foundation on which the rest of the NHS is built. Then find a way to blame those that work within primary care for these failings. And finally, privatise the NHS claiming there was no other choice. A full proof plan!

They are currently in phase 2 – the blame stage.

At the moment, its because we’re not seeing as many patients as we used to. That is because we simply don’t have the capacity. That’s why we have moved to telephone appointments and doctor-led triage. COVID paved the way for this, but many surgeries had started going down this route long before the pandemic hit. It actually works well for the most part. Obviously mistakes happen and there are some issues that need ironing out, but it is essential to keep our service running.

If a GP practice is no longer able to sustain itself, it will close and return it’s contract to NHS England who will look for a private organisation to take it over. This has happened to practices up and down the country. So you see, the plan is already working. The NHS is already being privatised and you just don’t know it yet.

Add to that the fact that most professionals in primary care are burned out, there is no one to replace us, and morale is the lowest it has been since I joined the NHS in 1998, and things are looking pretty dire. If I were the minister for health, I would strike whilst the iron is hot. We’re expecting the fatal blow anytime now. And once it happens, I will be able to say “I told you so”. But trust me when I tell you, I won’t feel good about it.

So I am not now, nor will I ever be, jumping on the “GP bashing bandwagon”.

But none of what I just said excuses the way that doctors treat their fat patients. One has absolutely nothing to do with the other. Putting patients first, doing no harm, respecting their autonomy, and treating them fairly and without discrimination should not be an additional hardship that doctors have to face. This is what we signed up for. This is the backbone of our profession.

By rights, I shouldn’t be here. I shouldn’t be having to make the case that doctors need to tackle weight stigma. It should go without saying. In fact, it should never have happened in the first place. These “random negative anecdotes” that our friend The Passable GP talks about are people’s lived experienced. Their trauma. Their pain.

Doctors shouldn’t be causing trauma or pain. They should be preventing it.

What disturbs me the most about this message is the priviliged, elitist undertones that are rooted in white supremacy culture. The idea that certain people shouldn’t be questioned or held to account because of the role that they serve in society, and that we should be mindful of their feelings as opposed to the feelings of the people they have harmed, is white supremacy culture at its finest. Protect the elite at all costs. Do not question them, and if you do, they will shed tears and attempt to make you feel guilty until you back down.

This kind of nonsense is how doctors have been allowed to get away with racism, transphobia, abelism and fat oppression for as long as they have. So whilst I care about my colleagues and I don’t want to harm them in any way, I am going to respectfully disagree with The Passable GP. I may make you feel uncomfortable and I may make you feel like you are inadequate, but neither of those things are my problem.

I am here to demand that my fellow doctors do their damn jobs. That’s all. Do what you’re supposed to do. That’s all I’m asking.

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