Posted by: Tony Copperfield25 October 2013
It was 1979; Donna Summer and Barbra Streisand were singing that enough was enough. Little did I know then, as I shook my groove thing, that the disco divas were accurately predicting the state of the average GP’s psyche 34 years later.
One thing we’re currently not doing in our practice is dancing. There are many reasons for this, but one can be found in a recent email from NHS England, headed: ‘**Important** – GP electronic annual practice declaration (eDEC)’. Never heard of it? Neither had we. Nor were we familiar with the ‘Assurance Management Framework of Primary Medical Services’ of which eDEC is, apparently, an integral part.
As far as I can tell, eDEC seems to be some sort of new, electronic annual practice report that comes with the inevitable 37-page explanatory blurb, FAQs and training. It includes a webcast that contains the advice that, if you want key points, you should ‘move the time cursor to 1:58:30’. So, handy tip: skip the first couple of hours. Plus, of course, there’s a deadline, which is, let me see… ah… sorry… a few weeks ago.
All of this is pretty unremarkable, but that’s my point. We receive emails like this constantly: on the CQC, CQRS, benchmarking initiatives, the care.data scheme, preparing for AQP and so on ad nauseam. They each follow the same pattern: high priority, shedloads of information to wade through, yet another login/password to set up and forget, training modules to endure, impenetrable language and acronyms, requests for information we’ve already provided to countless other people in countless other formats, pressing deadlines – and dire warnings of the drastic consequences should we default on any of the above.
It actually makes you yearn for the days of the paper-heavy practice and the Red Book. Emails make it far too easy to disseminate too much information to too many people and the advent of online learning allows those who distribute it to lose sight of the time and hassle it creates. And even Streisand and Summer didn’t realise that ditching the old John Wayne contract would mean swapping the irritation of a vague job description for the bureaucratic nightmare that now accompanies every item of bolt-on work.
While we GPs are shell-shocked by this barrage of bollocks, the people on the frontline are our practice managers. Don’t forget, for every one painful email they forward, they’ve sifted through and saved us from another 10. And they’re the poor sods who have to respond to and implement all this rubbish. Have you spoken to yours lately? Are you sure they’re still there? They’re very valuable people and if you think things are bad now, imagine what it would be like if the nation’s practice managers did the sensible thing and opted for antipsychotics.
So Donna and Barbra were spot on. Even more presciently, in the same tune, they sang that they wanted the culprit out the door. True, the current health secretary was then only 13 years old, but perhaps they could see what was coming.
Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex. You can email him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @DocCopperfield.