But what if all GPs were locums?

10th August 2017 by Richard Fieldhouse

But what if all GPs were locums?

Crazy as it sounds, this is a rhetorical question I often hear, and you may have heard it too. Though it doesn’t seem to be asked as a genuine question, more as an attempt to somehow justify the fact we absolutely need GP partners and salaried GPs and, by implication, that we therefore have to tolerate with everything that such practice-based GPs have thrown at them. Someone has to do it.

Another reason I hear this question could be – and I appreciate that this is probably just me being oversensitive – because it’s quite a cheap way to put me down, as if the choice I’ve actively made to work as a locum is somehow selfish (more on selfish later). It’s an attempt to defend the status quo, and to diminish those that don’t.

Either way, what this rhetorical question definitely is, is what Daniel Dennett, philosopher and cognitive scientist, would call a ‘deepity’. A deepity is a proposition that seems both important and true, achieving this effect by being ambiguous. On first hearing it, its meaning seems earth-shatteringly true; on another, true but trivial, and finally, manifestly false. Colonel Kurtz’s  “Do you know that ‘if’ is the middle word in life?” being a typical example.

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