The media do love a good bit of doctor bashing, there are some great examples of this around in the papers today, and none of the upstanding hacks involved would ever dream of letting the facts get in the way of a good vitriolic story.
It is pathetic what passes for journalism in the Daily Mail, as this doctor bashing story demonstrates very nicely. The facts of the story are that consultants get a small budget of 800 pounds per year for study leave. This budget barely covers the cost of a one or two day course but will be all that a doctor receives for several weeks of study that has to be paid for somehow. Therefore some doctors choose to go somewhere nice, like a skiing resort for example, for their continuing education and shock horror, may actually choose to eat out and have a few alcoholic beverages in the evenings. The Daily Mail hypes this up as doctors having it large at the tax payer's expense, which is a completely dishonest misinterpretation of the facts. For example my study leave budget for this year will pay for about 5-10% of the courses that I am attending during my study leave, this means that I am paying for my over 90% of my own education, the Mail doesn't tell you this story though.
Another woeful piece of anti-doctor spin appears in the Observer; making it out that GPs are solely to blame for people that are addicted to certain drugs including benzodiazepines and painkillers. The fact that mental health care is completely inadequate in the UK is ignored by the Observer, however it may well have something to do with 'prozac' being increasingly dished out like candy. If you combine a broken and failing society, in which community spirit and human support networks are being decimated in favour of short term capitalist gains, with a pharmaceutical industry that dishonestly manipulates statistics to peddle useless drugs, then you will get an end result of patients who demand a pharmacological fix to their unhappiness. In this environment it is also rather dangerous for more and more medicines with potentially serious side effects to be available over the counter without a prescription. If nothing other than economic gains are valued by government, then there will be more and more human misery created for which business will try to peddle a quick fix. One week doctors are not prescribing enough painkillers, the next week doctors are to blame for the side effects of the painkillers they prescribe, is this a no win situation in the eyes of journalists with arts degrees who are too stupid to understand science?
Dr Crippen has it spot on with his incisive commentary on yet another tragic tale of a medical suicide. If you believe what you read then doctors are lazy, greedy, selfish and good for nothing. However who is telling you this? A mixture of politicians and journalists of whom very few have much knowledge of anything medical or the medical topics on which they are so keen to give us their 'well informed' opinion. So what is the government's fix for this problem of a useless self interest medical profession? Well, they want to empower more and more people with far less knowledge and training than proper doctors, they want to restrict the public's access to doctors, and they want to dish out more and more work to big health care corporations. All of this will lead to an increasing tendency towards dishing out drugs when they are not needed, as prescribers will be less aware of the detailed evidence bases upon which decisions are based, and the big corporations will always be keen to flog patients something, as in their eyes creating a needless demand for something useless makes good business sense. The small GP practice in which decisions are made in the best interests of patients will be a thing of the past, and the big health care corporations selling us tests and treatments we don't need will be the brave new way of the future.