‘Just a GP’ – exploring the issue of denigration within medicine

Talk Code: 
Liam McHale
Author institutions: 
Newcastle University


Whilst some argue competition between specialities is a 'time old tradition' we explore if it conceals a wider issue. Through our recent work, we have found denigration is occurring within the Northern Region and strongly feel that we must work towards having a state of ‘professional respect’ between specialities. With some specialities, including General Practice, facing issues relating to recruitment, understanding how denigration may be having an impact is of great importance.   


Since 2016 we have adopted a mixed method approach to exploring the issue of denigration within the region, exploring the experience had by local medical students and junior doctors. We included questions relating to denigration within routine evaluation surveys and conducted focus groups annually to observe for any trends. This work initially focussed solely on denigration towards General Practice, we recently welcomed the opportunity to extend the scope as it is our opinion that a better understanding of this issue is essential in order to progress towards its elimination throughout the NHS.


It has been noted that the issue of denigration is ubiquitous, with few specialities spared. However, the themes that have emerged in comments made about different specialities do differ, with General Practice and Psychiatry being perceived by some as ‘second rate’ career options. The fact that both students and doctors early in their training are experiencing this phenomenon is of particular concern due to the potential impact on speciality recruitment.


Despite intervention, denigration remains an issue and more needs to be done to address the problem. We hope by showcasing our work, we can continue to inspire others consider how they could inspire change. The response we have received so far has been encouraging, the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in significant pressure on our organisation which could potentially further increase the strain on inter-speciality relations.


Presenting author: Dr. Liam McHale, Newcastle University, liam.mchale@nhs.net
Co-authors: Dr. Hugh Alberti, Newcastle University, hugh.alberti@newcastle.ac.uk

Dr. Helen Collingwood, Newcastle University, helen.collingwood@nhs.net

Dr. Alex Wood, Newcastle University, alex.wood4@nhs.net