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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Sorry? Not sorry

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Sorry, I’ve only just caught up with this story. Except, why am I apologising? Thanks to viral punters hoping that I’ll dole out seasonally wrapped gift packs of amoxicillin, I’ve been too busy to read the news. And that’s my point. Sometimes, we should make no apologies.

Ninety per cent of complaints I encounter are utterly pointless, baseless, and moronic

Whereas the story suggests the opposite, repeating the mantra that we GPs should have a very low – as in non-existent – threshold for saying ‘sorry’ to aggrieved patients. Apparently, it averts potential complaints. Hmmm. Maybe.

But it’s a complete grovelling apology-fest, isn’t it? Because the advice is the same when you do receive that complaint. Whether or not you’re in the wrong, you’re supposed to start with how you are soooooooooooo very very sorry etc etc.

Well, I beg to differ. Ninety per cent of complaints I encounter are utterly pointless, baseless, and moronic. And they’re often from serial offenders. These patients like to see themselves as wronged victims battling bravely against a faceless, uncaring system. They’re not and they aren’t. They’re just enjoying having a good gripe at people who are doing their best. They are the type of person who, after a standard twenty minute wait to be seen, bitch endlessly about the delay and then, with no sense of irony whatsoever, present six different problems.

Far from being the injured party, they are the ones inflicting serious hurt, not least because every complaint, no matter how trivial, creates a lot of work and hammers another nail in the coffin of my sense of vocation.

It’s perfectly OK to try to change inappropriate patient behaviour, isn’t it? It’s fine, for example, to say, ‘No’ to those seasonal amoxicillin requests. Stupid complaints should be dealt with in exactly the same way - otherwise we just reinforce that sense of righteous indignation.

Sorry? Sod off, more like.

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

 

 

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Readers' comments (5)

  • Just to say that reading your blogs is the only thing that has just about saved my sanity in what has been the worse year of my professional life. Keep up the great work! Let's hope that 2017 is a better year for General Practice.....

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  • I feel the same, if your blog wasn't there I would have retreated in to a far away jungle to live in a shed and live off the land!

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  • I couldn't agree more. The spineless vacillation of the MDOs is purely driven by their desire to reduce workload and risk of payouts. As if this will achieve anything.

    Cower to a bully and they come back for more. THis is what the MDOs are encouraging.

    The MDOs are part of the industry of regulation and other peripheral parasites that feed on the frontline grassroots GPs.

    They have absolutely no care in the world if your morale is damaged by apologising for nothing.

    This is the best article of 2016 in Pulse, and the MDOs, RCGP and other hangers on should take note of their effect of being far TOO patient centric.

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  • Agree. The MDOs are getting worse. I have given up asking them for advice on complaints and dealt with it as it should. Apologies if it is my fault and politely telling them to sod off if it is not as it should be. I found out some repeat offenders do it to shops as well.

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  • Couldn't agree more- reading copperfield keeps my ever drooping chin up . My favourite complaint from patient kept waiting 33 mins who then presented the dreaded list with 11 separate problems - the last one being that she had lost her bank card ....

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From: Copperfield

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