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Independents' Day

Are my best efforts just a waste of time?

I told him that as well as routine appointments we had a duty doctor who would talk to everyone, and see anyone who needed it on the same day. If we were worried about the kid he could still do that. He mentioned that this had been offered, but it had fallen on deaf ears, as he continued to mutter about Wednesday. I grabbed my drink and left.

As so often in these situations, the sense of injustice hit me only after the event.

My initial emotion was anger. What right had this cheeky sod got to slag off my practice? I'd spent the entire week knocking my brains out at work. From the moment I enter the building until I leave I'm doing something. Lunch is a sandwich snatched in mouthfuls between letters from my in-tray. Any person walking into my room gets my full attention and best effort. Now he's saying it's wasted effort.

So perhaps today we have health care 'consumers' rather than patients. Well I'm a 'consumer' in his shop, but have never walked into it and said it was useless because it doesn't sell dandelion and burdock. Should I let rip so if he knows how it feels?

Then I felt a little sad. Now I know that for him my worth corresponds merely to an open-access time. No thought given to how well I perform during consultations, no recognition for every time I have cared.

It made rather a mockery of the refining process that was set in motion during my registrar year. What use are self-examination, reflection and improvement if all that matters to the patient is speed of delivery? Why aim for haute cuisine when all that is asked for is a Big Mac?

Finally I was worried. What is going to happen to my job in the future? Am I going to be a primary care consultant, a figurehead directing services and seeing only the most complex cases? Or shall I be 'Dial-a-Doc', responding to my customer's every demand and whim in a bid to earn a crust treating self-limiting illness?

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