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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Practice denigrated by bloke in shop

Where is the motivation to improve when you are told your best isn't good enough? Would any of us expect to get the best from someone that we denigrate? Why should any of us go out of our way to help others, when the effort is scorned?

I'm a bit annoyed.

I popped into a neighbouring shop to get a drink in the middle of Friday afternoon surgery: it was a busy day and I was flagging. I'm friendly with the shop assistant, and we often chat. He took my money, and said: 'It's a great place you run there.' I was a bit surprised, but said thanks and put my hand out for my change. Then I realised he was being sarcastic.

I was rather taken aback. I've looked after this bloke and his family since I joined the practice. I've seen his kids when they were sick, squeezed them in when he was worried, even called his missus at home to check up on pregnancy complications. To be honest, I've been totally bloody lovely to them!

I replied with a far from erudite 'Huh?'.

He told me that his kid had started with a cold, and when the wife had called at lunchtime she was told the next routine appointment was Wednesday morning. Shameful though it may be, my first thoughts were that that wasn't too bad considering people are off on leave.

'What's the use of Wednesday, the cold will be better by then!'

Dr Aran Gillespie on a meeting with a customer in the local shop that made him wonder what is going to happen to his job

Evidence base for

a good old moan

Everybody seems to have an opinion as to what doctors should be doing. Unfortunately every opinion is different, and many are conflicting. The profession (even me) strives to base practice on evidence. No one with an opinion is shackled by such constraints. What they think is right, is right. It only has to feel right to be right. It doesn't matter whether it actually would make things better or not. It doesn't matter if it is achievable or not. The customer is always right.

Some of you may think I am being harsh on the shop bloke. I am, he was only having a moan. He had ideas, concerns and expectations that were not being addressed or met. He is a person with a valid viewpoint who should be given the opportunity to express it in a non-threatening setting. I should nod and repeat 'I hear what you are saying' at appropriate intervals.

But I'm a person too. So are a lot of doctors. When do we get to complain? I don't mean muttering to each other as partners circle over the visit request book, or casting bitter remarks to our poor staff.

I mean when do we get to express our frustrations back towards the patient in the same manner the shop bloke did to me? Will the doctor-patient partnership ever be that equal? I doubt it.

I know everything I have said is evil heresy born from my immaturity and baby-induced sleep deprivation. But indulge me just for once; let's pretend it's OK for me to have a moan!

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