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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Line up for a dose of ‘doctor knows best’

Dr David Turner writes

It’s that time of year again, when patient-centred care goes out of the window and we insist on a dose of ‘doctor knows best’.

The annual flu vaccination clinics are always a trial. There is no negotiating with patients and no middle ground, you have it or you don’t.

Even I don’t believe the DOH are stupid enough to spend millions deliberately giving the population influenza.

In my experience, when it comes to the flu vaccine, patients fall into two camps: there are those who are queuing with their sleeves rolled up on the day we take delivery of the first batch. Then there are the others that point-blank refuse the vaccine because ‘it gives you flu’.

Now I’m the first to criticise the endless stream of pig swill that pours out of the DOH laughably labelled as policy, but even I don’t believe they are stupid enough to spend millions deliberately giving the population influenza.

There is no accounting for patients’ logic though. It’s not uncommon to have a patient in front of you refusing the flu jab with one breath then insisting on antibiotics for their viral infection with the next.

But then we must remember it’s no longer ‘doctor knows best’ but ‘neighbour knows best’. They say, ‘ No I’m not having the flu jab. My neighbour’s uncle’s best friend had it in 1963 and he was dead two months later.’

I’m weary of the arguing. It would be nice to get a t-shirt with ‘No it can’t give you ****ing flu!’ printed on the front and just point at it.

I don’t mind patients questioning our treatment if it is a sensible questioning, it’s just that people don’t question professionals in other walks of life the same way. On boarding a plane I have yet to see a fellow passenger march into the cockpit, pick up the flight plan and tell the pilot their dad wouldn’t go that way.

Some of the medical myths that do the rounds are almost funny they are so ridiculous. I once had a conversation with a patient about why she was so nervous about her upcoming cataract surgery. She said the bit she was dreading most was when they pull you eye out of its socket and lay it on your cheek for the operation.

Mind you a good epidemic health scare gets the numbers up at flu clinics. During the last swine flu outbreak they were banging the door down.

If we do get another pig flu pandemic I can think of ex-Etonian who should be at the front of the vaccine queue.

Dr David Turner is a GP in west London

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Readers' comments (3)

  • i just had my flu jab, and since have been riddled with cold. coincidence? who knows. could be the jab, could be the stream of viral URTIs coming in to see me demanding antibiotics.

    all i know is, as a locum I had it to try and avoid time off work, and almost had to take a week off after having it!

    hard to argue with patients when you are on the receiving end yourself.

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  • Its not surprising that patients don't trust a word we say when even our own health secretary thinks we are so useless we can be replaced by Google and machines.
    RIP general practice and let the health inequality begin.

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  • The business model behind this task is interesting. Surely each CCG could just send invites to ALL eligible with a central clinic ALL winter and home visits by surgeries.

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