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Having our own GP

We doctors are busy professional people. If you were to ask yourself, "what is reasonable health care monitoring for someone like me?", you would suggest a range of health strategies appropriate for your age and life-style. These would include a healthy diet, enough exercise, regular holidays and an annual check-up by your GP. All sensible advice. But how many of us take our own sensible advice? DHAS has found that fewer than 40% of doctors have an identifiable GP. Many who do are consulting their spouse or practice partner. Many have not consulted that doctor for years.

We doctors seem to enjoy the very worst health care. We tend to self-diagnose, self-prescribe and self-refer. It's difficult for us to be patients. We can see the value of patients' having a personal physician who knows their history and gives personal care, but, in a strange twist of thinking, we don't see that this applies to ourselves and our families.

We suffer more than the general population from stress-related illnesses, such as depression, alcoholism and drug abuse, all indicating poor self-care. If we cannot consult another doctor for a physical illness, how much more difficult is it if we are depressed or over-using alcohol?!

The NSW Doctors' Mental Health Working Party, the NSW Medical Board, the AMA and the Colleges strongly recommend that we all have our own GP.

Emphasis is placed on our being aware that we are at risk from stress, mental health problems and various other illnesses and that we have a responsibility to be alert to our symptoms and to seek appropriate professional care as patients.

So take your own best advice. Find a GP you trust and let them manage your health care. Encourage your colleagues to do the same. And let another doctor use their time and objectivity to manage your family's health. This will free you to do what you do best - concentrate on the health of your patients.

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