Is general practice being called the toilet bowl of medicine such a bad thing?

A couple of days ago, I heard someone describe general practice as “the toilet bowl of medicine”.

It was not meant to be complimentary.  However, on reflection, perhaps using such a statement to denigrate general practice is instead betraying an underappreciation of toilet bowls.

Like in a general practice consultation, what happens behind a closed toilet door is generally private, personal, and absolutely essential to health and wellbeing. Subtle and not-so-subtle signs of disease can be revealed.  Toilet visits can be quick and routine, or they can be long and troubled.  Those with good health and busy lives often don’t give toilets much thought, but expect them to be conveniently located and available when the need arises.  For others, toilet access is always front of mind, sometimes dictating how they live their lives.

Importantly, having an adequate number and distribution of well-functioning toilet bowls is vital to keep communities healthy including preventing and/or managing disease outbreaks.

Like ‘I’m more like herpes than Ebola’, I don’t think “General practice – the toilet bowl of medicine” is a rallying cry which will (or should!) catch on.

However, I believe we need to remind politicians, bureaucrats and our esteemed health practitioner colleagues, that although general practice may not be the sexiest of the medical professions, like sanitation, it is absolutely vital that all Australians have ready and affordable access to properly funded, maintained and supported services.  Without prioritising both general practice and toilet bowls, Australian society is going end up in the poo.

2 thoughts on “Is general practice being called the toilet bowl of medicine such a bad thing?

  1. Well said Genevieve, let’s not get our bowels in an uproar every time someone comments on general practice.

    Indeed, where would we be without good sanitation? The great sanitary awakening of the nineteenth century eventually led to eradication of cholera, diphtheria, typhoid and other infectious diseases in many urban areas.

    Looking at the spiralling health costs and increasing pressure on hospital systems, I suspect politicians and other decision makers are not far away from a great primary care awakening.

    As you say, ready and affordable access to general practice is, more than ever, as important as access to a toilet bowl.

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