Cookie policy notice

By continuing to use this site you agree to our cookies policy below:
Since 26 May 2011, the law now states that cookies on websites can ony be used with your specific consent. Cookies allow us to ensure that you enjoy the best browsing experience.

This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

Heartlift patients?! Sorry, no patients can be described as 'likeable'

Apparently practices are full of 'heartlift' patients as well as heartsinks, according to Irish researchers. Copperfield's having none of it. The only heartlift patients are those who never come in, he argues.

Apparently practices are full of 'heartlift' patients as well as heartsinks, according to Irish researchers. Copperfield's having none of it. The only heartlift patients are those who never come in, he argues.



Those of you familiar with Newton's third law will be aware that, for every patient, there should be an equal and opposite patient. This idea is reinforced by a concept I'd never come across before – the 'heartlift'.

Apparently, these patients really exist, and they're the direct opposite of those heartsinks we know and loathe. That's the conclusion of some research from Ireland involving, ‘Structured interview to collect narratives from GPs of individual patients, analysed qualitatively through thematic analysis and word frequency.'

Which I think means they had a natter over a few halves of Guinness. In fact, I'm sure that's the case - only when you're half pissed would you agree to declare in an abstract that a characteristic of patients you like is that they're, I quote, ‘Likeable'.

Also, according to the research, they're a challenge, interesting and virtuous. Hang on a sec. I can count on one finger the number of my patients who tick those boxes.

Whereas Heartsinks hunt in packs, which is why I have at least three or four per surgery. In fact, I'd suggest that Heartlift patients by definition don't exist. Because the only ones I feel really positive about are those who don't attend. And if they don't attend, they're not really patients.

Of course, there are those who say you get the patients you deserve: it's not the patients who are heartsinks, but the doctor. And it's my considered opinion that the people who say this are tossers.

So sod Newton's third law, it's wrong. Unlike his first law, which states that every heartsink remains in a uniform state of motion (toward my consulting room) until an external force (my boot) is applied to it ('s arse) in which case it will change its direction (towards the door).

Now that, I must admit, gives my heart a little lift.

Copperfield blog

Rate this article 

Click to rate

  • 1 star out of 5
  • 2 stars out of 5
  • 3 stars out of 5
  • 4 stars out of 5
  • 5 stars out of 5

0 out of 5 stars

Have your say