Posted by: Tony Copperfield11 November 2013
Sorry to bang on again about Saturday morning surgeries, but after letting the steam out of my ears about the DNA rate the other day I went back to that morning’s appointment list and had a closer look.
Six of the nineteen patients who had booked appointments didn’t show up.
I’m used to the occasional no-show, and the fifteen minute appointment slots we dole out on Saturday are so long that even the most devoted heartsink runs out of medically inexplicable symptoms before they run out of time. Combine these two factors and the result is that I’m always armed with a crossword and some decent music to wile away the longeurs between consultations.
Then I noticed something. Every DNA’s name had a small label by its side, showing that the time wasters had booked their time slot online using the Patient Partner system.
The all-singing, all-dancing, state-of-the-art, patient-empowering, instantly accessible, twenty-four-seven, three-sixty-five, fail-safe, click the mouse and you’re done Patient Partner system.
One of them rang up to ask why the building was apparently empty and locked up tight before realising that he was standing outside the wrong surgery, the one that we don’t open on Saturdays. ‘If I shoot over now, can you still see me?’, he asked. ‘You know that thing when you book a flight with Ryanair, and then show up at the wrong airport for your flight home? We’re like that. But even meaner.’
The others probably thought that anything you could get for free with a mouse click without being subjected to a barrage of online advertising or having to uninstall a shed load of malware was worth so little that nobody would be bothered if you changed your mind.
From now on, if anybody wants to see me at the weekend, they talk to a human and arrange it on the phone. The Patient Partner button for Saturday surgery is, as of now, greyed out.
And there’s no use bleating about it. The GP giveth and the GP taketh away. I gave you this nice shiny new toy and like any good parent I’m confiscating it until you learn to use it properly. Which will be never, obviously.
Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex. You can email him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @DocCopperfield.