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The waiting game

The latest distraction from seeing patients

Dr David Turner

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If you have yet to encounter the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), I can tell you it’s right up there with being water-boarded in methanol as a life experience.

This latest hoop for us to leap through means everybody in our surgeries must have done online training in the new regulations by 26 May.

The teaching module for this takes an hour and is composed of seemingly endless lists of incomprehensible legalistic twaddle that could induce torpor in a group of hyperactive toddlers at a Haribos party on Christmas eve.

I’m no genius, but I’m not an idiot and I could only understand a fraction of this guff. Guff we have to give paid time to our secretaries, receptionists and nurses to read instead of dealing with patients.

The growth of supposedly mandatory online training courses is relentless

From what I could understand of GDPR it is to do with tightening up data protection so people have more access to their data and companies have to make you opt in rather than opt out of receiving communications from them. Oh yes and we can’t charge patients to see their notes any more.

That’s all I got out of an hour where I could have been seeing patients. Multiply that across all the staff in the surgery and it comes to 20-odd hours of wasted practice staff time.

We need to know about it, but surely the practice manager can be given all the information about GDPR and then share it, in a summarised format with the rest of the team.

If it was only GDPR it might be tolerable, but as we know this is the tip of the iceberg. The growth of supposedly mandatory online training courses is relentless. Adult safeguarding, child safeguarding, consent, equality and diversity, infection control, fire safety and the list goes on.

There seems to be a creeping idea that inclusivity not only means treating everybody fairly, but also making everybody do the same tedious training whether or not it has any relevance to their job.

However, I suspect resisting this is futile. Instead I suggest we all put up posters in our surgeries announcing how many hours of mandatory training the practice has to undergo in the past year and what this equates to in lost patient appointments, and suggesting that if patients feel this time would be better spent dealing with their complaints they write to Jeremy Hunt to tell him so.

Sometimes there is nothing like a bit of passive aggression.

Dr David Turner is a GP in north west London

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Readers' comments (5)

  • David Banner

    Yep, yet another item to add to the list of “reasons why GPs are leaving in droves”, a list now so long it only fits on a scroll.
    I wonder how many of us will simply refuse to do it and say, “sack me, you’d be doing me a favour”, just to see how “mandatory” this latest drivel really is?

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  • I wish I was smart enough to invent a 'mandatory training'! There is now a big industry minting money on this - frankly, I don't see any improvement this brings.

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  • @ 10.26

    Spot on!
    Something else that needs an independent review.


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  • Maybe we can invent a mandatory training course for creating mandatory training courses?

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  • I have to confess to being something of a dinosaur - I actually enjoy General Practice and I am working beyond my retirement age. But what is going to make me leave?

    1. Requirements for appraisal and re-validation. Will someone please show me the evidence that this improves practice and is not just yet another tick box exercise. Even the G.M.C. seems now to be doubting its validity.

    2. The C.Q.C. This self-defining, self-perpetuating, self-congratulatory organisation can produce no external evidence supporting the efficacy of its operations (it consistently refers to its own data to support its operations, an approach that would be derided in any other sphere of medicine) but there is plenty of evidence to show that it interferes with the delivery of care, especially in General Practice.

    3. Compulsory training. I think particularly of safeguarding where the mismatch between what is delivered on courses and the reality of what actually happens when one attempts to report suspected abuse is so wide that it renders the training futile.

    4. The perpetual Daily Mail style drip feed of negativity towards General Practice which our revered politicians do so little to counter. Fortunately out patients value us far more but an undercurrent of entitlement is developing which is fuelled by lazy, ill-informed reporting.

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