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

Sorry folks, it's last orders

  • Print
  • Comments (7)
  • Save

Of the many and varied piles of crap we have to plough through on our return from Christmas/New Year bank holidays, one of the piliest, and certainly crappiest, is the need to wade through the antics of our dearly beloved patients, as elaborately and laboriously described by good old NHS 111.

And what strikes me as I emerge, blinking, from this crudfest, is how the out-of-hours service is fast becoming an-out-of medication service. I don’t know what’s more annoying – the fact that the punters can be so feckin’ feckless that they pop their final pill and inhale their final puff just after we shut up shop, or the fact that the OOH angels seem so keen to rectify the problem that they pop round at a moment’s notice with the required supplies on a silver sodding salver.

In this last batch, I’ve clocked patients requesting salbutamol, amlodipine, co-codamol, amitriptyline and, of course, the contraceptive pill – and receiving them, usually via a consultation with the OOH doc. And no, for any ‘consumer advocates’ out there poised over the ‘Submit comment’ button, that’s not an implied indictment of the nation’s repeat prescribing services, which are beyond reproach, it’s an explicit indictment of the quality of the nation’s patients, who are beyond belief.

I don’t do OOH, but my response to the vast majority of requests for emergency treatment supplies would be, ‘Tough’. After all, there’s only a tiny handful of drugs which are ‘essential’ and an equally tiny handful of situations where sudden discontinuation would cause a serious problem. In which case, fine, we’ll sort a prescription. But it doesn’t need a consultation with a doctor, it requires a phone-call to a co-operative pharmacist, hopefully one situated far enough away to cause the punter some edifying inconvenience.

And to those OOH doctors still veering towards the play-safe approach of giving in, remember: most of the time, patients don’t take their medication properly, anyway. The only time they decide they will is when they can’t, because they’ve run out: in other words, as usual, they want what they can’t have. And if they’re going to act like children, that’s how they should be treated. Just say no and ignore the tantrum.

Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex. You can email him at tonycopperfield@hotmail.com and follow him on Twitter @DocCopperfield.

Readers' comments (7)

  • Dr Mustapha Tahir

    Ignore the tantrum uncle Copperfield and 2014 will be an even more memorable as the year of complaint! incidentally, I have just finished digesting your last article on 2013 as the year of complaint. Its the year I recorded more than 1,000 complaints. I am still struggling to reply to all of them.
    Perhaps I should simply ignore replying to anymore. Currently, I need what I can't easily access. Help from the NHS Occupational health unit. I'm burnt out! I'll implement your tactics. I'd just say NO to all and ignore the tantrum. Hope you'd have a vacancy in your surgery in Essex soon. I can foresee myself being a potential candidate, GMC/MPTS permitting!!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Regarding your revelation that OOH is fast becoming a out of medication service, I am grateful that you have brought this to general attention. Those of us in the OOH service would also like to let people know that we no longer need to have a gentleman waving a flag in front of cars anymore and that Reggie Bosanquet doesn't read the news anymore.
    David you need to get out more often. We already are being tough as we can and, wow, do we pay a price sometimes for being so tough! Until we did flex our muscles , we getting 40% of our calls on Saturday between 10 and 12 repeat med related.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I can remember a GP of old who became so disillusioned with his patients that he left a basket of drug rep samples with a notice saying "Help Yourself" in the waiting room and just pushed off! I must admit this is tempting but professionally suicidal.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Who's David? :-)

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • How many of these drugs needed to be prescribed in the first place?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Martyn,
    You have let the world know my method of remembering names by calling everyone my son's name.......it had been a long day.............

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Many of these calls used to go to NHS Direct when I worked there .... I used to send 'em to their local pharmacy with their proof of prescription and the advice that the pharmacist, at their discretion, may given them an emergency supply and charge them for it. 'But I don't pay for my prescriptions' they would splutter. Poor dears ... tough, order them in good time and don't leave it until 6pm on a Friday night in future!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

  • Print
  • Comments (7)
  • Save

From: Copperfield

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