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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Join the queue

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Well, it’s taken me two weeks, but I’ve finally got to the front of the queue of people wanting to thank that Portsmouth GP who’s retiring. I was there not as a patient, but simply to thank him for providing the nationals with the one positive news story about GPs that I’ve read for…er…ever.

I also wanted to let him know that we often have queues down our way, too, but for rather different reasons. Patients form queues outside Dr Copperfield’s surgery because:

- They are trying to get an appointment.

They have toothache and can’t find a dentist.

They can’t get through on the phone.

They want to shout at the reception staff.

They want to shout at me.

They are scared by today’s tabloid health scare/wish to be prescribed today’s tabloid health breakthrough.

They have been told to come here by NHS 111.

They want to have a grumble about how awful everything is.

They want access to the trough of antibiotics in the waiting room.

They’re here to smash our window/urinate in our lift.

The pharmacist has told them that the drug they have been using for the last 23 years is no longer available and so they must see me for an alternative.

They want to use the loo for the usual purpose.

They want to use the loo to shoot up.

They join most queues because there’s usually something free at the end of it (and they’re right).

They have come to throw things at me (such as bricks or punches).

They’ve been to their pre-op assessment and have been told that their blood pressure is ‘dangerously high’.

They’re waiting to complain about the long waits.

They joined the queue some time ago but have now forgotten why.

It does occur to me that, when I retire, while some patients may indeed be celebrating, it’s very unlikely that there will queues going round the block to thank me. Which gives me a perverse sense of pride. Otherwise I might think I’d softened up over the years.

Queues of grieving patients? Thanks, but no thanks. 

Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex. You follow him on Twitter @DocCopperfield

Readers' comments (2)

  • As an aside - they are not called 'pre-op assessment clinics' anymore but 'pre-assessment clinics' - I know cos I went to one. The nurse wasn't amused when I pointed out that 'pre-assessment clinic ' implied that I was going to an 'assessent clinic' next. Presumably this name change was dreamed up by some admin berk on a huge salary but who never learnt to speak English properly !!

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  • I wrote to the chief exec [sir something or other] of a distant trust asking who would pay my bill for doing their pre-op bloods and swabs. Anyone care to bet that he might reply?

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From: Copperfield

Dr Tony Copperfield is a jobbing GP in Essex with more than a few chips on his shoulder