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Independents' Day

Unleashing my inner disco diva

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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 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 and follow him on Twitter @DocCopperfield.

Readers' comments (10)

  • I love you Tony Copperfield. Not in 'that way' of course; I'm a happily married man. Well when I say happy that depends on whether she is pestering me to take time off to do some decorating because I am neglecting the nest, I mean house. On the other hand, she has to put up with a lot. Anyway, I digress. From someone who was in at 5.00am this morning dealing with e-mails, to have someone else recognise the plight of us poor sods on the first floor is a breath of fresh air. Thanks

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  • I'm one of the poor sods you mention but thanks for the recognition Tony, your blog keeps me almost sane. Any PM worth their salt will filter all the email cr*p before forwarding to the team. Yes, my head is beginning to sink below the water line even though my little legs couldn't paddle any more frantically than they are already. A horizontal week in the Caribbean ('cause I couldn’t realistically take 2 weeks in case I missed a deadline) with IV Rum helped. 4 days back and I’m stressed to my eyeballs again. I keep a copy of the lost poem of Dr Zeus on my wall.

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  • And thanks 12.14 for the Dr Seuss poem, never heard of it, googled it, now pinned to my wall

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  • Nhsfatcat

    Other 1979 Billboard No 1s

    Le Freak - Jezza!
    Da Ya Think I'm Sexy? Dannny P
    I Will Survive- The NHS
    Tragedy- the Health Act
    I Will Survive (again)
    What a Fool Believes - Everyone
    Reunited- GPs and 3am calls for the MAP
    Ring My Bell by 'Anita Ward' (After CQC inspections![I am so sorry about that pun.])
    Good Times- Private Health bosses
    Sad Eyes- GPs
    Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough- Governement health policy for public.
    Heartache Tonight- Patients
    Still- Patient after contacting NHS Direct
    No More Tears (Enough is Enough) Should have called 999
    Escape (The Piña Colada Song) - Throng of reiring GPs
    Thanks Tony for making me look this up!

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  • Perhaps if the DOH was required to issue all of its pronouncements hand written on slate or chipped into stone tablets then they would ensure that it was worth writing.
    At least the slate could be reused to provide a roof over your head and a carefully selected tablet could be used as your gravestone.

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  • Form another PM, thank you! Your sardonic wit has cheered me up, I will now go in again tomorrow, and deflect as much as I can, for as long as I can.

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  • Well done Tony; spot -on as usual. I resigned as our practice manager at the beginning of October, & am currently working my notice. I have simply had enough of the tsunami of shite from the cornucopia of quangos that has been created this last 30 months. You chop three heads off the hydra.... & six more come back at you. Too may plates spinning on too many sticks, & now some are sarting to crash to the floor. Add to this the chorus of unasked-for 'advice' from sanctimonius gits at NHS England & the CQC. I can't even relax on holiday without the knowledge that I may have to return at a moments notice if the CQC say they are coming round. What used to be a labour of love has become a job I would not wish on my worst enemy. As chair of our locality PMs group, I can tell you that a majority of my colleagues feel the same.

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  • Who needs antipsychotics when we have Tony Copperfield!

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  • I am now 62 and semi retired, doing occasional locums here in the summer and in Australia in the winter. So much truth in this string. I've actually started to enjoy seeing patients again - freed from those cursed TLAs - three lettered acronyms! Tony Copperfield is the guy who got me through my full time career to 60!! Thanks, Tony.

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  • Now this really put a smile on my face and set me up for the day. Recognition in any form for the daily drudge I contend with is great. This email makes me feel quite normal as a PM

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From: Copperfield

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