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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Strangled by bureaucracy

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Maybe I’d been watching too many re-runs of Sherlock. But as I sat in my consulting room on a lonely, pin-drop quiet Sunday afternoon, catching up on paperwork, I knew that I was about to be murdered. And I knew this because I heard noises down the corridor where, on a Sunday afternoon, no noises should be heard.

I froze in horror. One of the local junkies must have broken in, I guessed, and was sniffing out prescription pads and opioids. Not the first time it had happened, but they normally had the courtesy  to only try their luck when the building was empty. I grabbed the one thing handy that had the potential to act as some sort of weapon: an aerosol can of air-freshener. If I was going to die, at least, according to the blurb, I’d die smelling of fresh linen.

I crept down the corridor. The noises were coming from my senior partner’s room. I was going to catch the bugger red-handed. Finger poised on the ‘spray’ button, I kicked the door open.

 ‘What the f**k are you doing here?’ said my senior partner and I to each other.

 ‘I thought I’d spend Sunday CQRS-ing,’ I explained, sheepishly. ‘And you?’

 ‘I’m CQC-ing,’ he said. ‘Got to find the time for it somewhere. Is that air-freshener loaded?’

Before I could reply, there was a further commotion. In burst our junior partner. ‘Bloody hell,’ he exclaimed. ‘There I was, quietly QOF-ing. You two gave me the fright of my life.’

A few more footsteps down the corridor later and we were confronted by our two other partners: Dr X, AQP-ing and Dr Y, DES-ing.

So there we were, at 2pm on a Sunday afternoon: five partners, five acronyms and one can of air freshener.  And it turned out that each of us had been coming in at odd times every weekend for ages in a desperate attempt to get on top of our workloads, each too embarrassed to admit to the others that we had been reduced to this.

I wasn’t murdered, true. But the practice is being strangled by bureaucracy.  

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

Readers' comments (6)

  • Hadrian Moss

    This all sounds too familiar. Is there a need for a national support network?
    QOFer's Anonymous (QOFA)?

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  • Dont' tell NHE England or they'll assume it's in your contract to work sundays already.

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  • welcome to the real world! The fact you write about working a weekend as remarkable is, indeed, remarkable

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  • Dr Mustapha Tahir

    Oh No! Tony I felt disappointed reading this. You are the only GP in the UK I thought will have a solution on how to avoid wasting precious hours in the Surgery at weekends. That not even you could find away round this is very disturbing!

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  • Arrange remote access ..then no one will know!

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  • Thank-you anonymous. Of course in the real world of safety critical jobs and European Working time directives we would not be permitted to add another 5 hours to the 60 or so we currently work each week.

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From: Copperfield

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