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The cure for the common cold? A two-week wait for an appointment

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I’m not sure how you’d objectively measure something to ascertain whether it might just be ‘The Funniest Thing in the World, Ever’. But this surely comes close.

For a variety of reasons beyond anyone’s control, our practice and those nearby have been suffering severe appointment pressure lately. And the ‘You have to wait two weeks to see a GP’ headline, with an outraged member of the public obligingly commenting, ‘It’s outrageous’, has finally hit the local paper.

So far, so predictable. But here’s the funny bit. In the piece there was the following comment from a local bigwig: ‘It’s ridiculous. Some patients are having to wait so long that their symptoms have disappeared by the time they get to the doctor.’

That’s right. It’s worth saying that again, and savouring it. ‘Some patients are having to wait so long that their symptoms have disappeared by the time they get to the doctor.’

Now, I’m guessing, but I reckon that this comment was made without any trace of irony whatsoever. There’s no appreciation that all this appointment pressure would be relieved if the public realised that minor, self-limiting illness needs no input from the GP at all. No understanding that a health service based entirely on wants rather than needs is unsustainable. And no insight into how this sort of brainless indignation simply perpetuates the problem.

Which, on reflection, makes it probably not The Funniest Thing in the World, Ever. In fact, it’s not very funny at all.

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)

  • If only people took a minute to step back from their issues to realise the above. I find it incredible that in the midst of rising waiting times and rising A+E attendances no one has pointed out that although we may have an older population we are also the healthiest we have ever been, yet people come to see doctors etc more?? The simple reason is that unfortunately as healthcare professionals, we have allowed ourselves, the media and the government to convince everyone that their minor ailments are life and death emergencies - things such as the 4 hour wait and the OOH debate reinforce this. Until someone speaks up on this matter sensibly and coherently the NHS and primary care will continue to struggle and eventually fail.

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  • Couldn't agree more but am not holding my breath waiting for a politician who has the guts to point out the obvious.

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  • Brilliant! I'm laughing out loud!!! And sooooo true!

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  • Perhaps we are ". . . also the healthiest we have ever been . . ." because we visit the doctor more often?

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  • 1.12pm
    Now that really IS The Funniest Thing In The World, Ever...

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  • Bob Hodges

    This is one of the Chestnuts that makes every day Christmas Day in General Practice.

    The wait for a prebookable appointment with me is now FOUR WEEKS ('other' doctors are available, just ask your friendly receptionist). It's a marvellous filter.

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Have your say

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From: Copperfield

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