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CAMHS won't see you now

What's the magic number? Apparently it's 34

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Douglas Adams was wrong, 42 is not the answer to life the universe and everything, 34 is.

34 is the minimum number of completed patient feedback surveys we have to submit during a revalidation cycle.

Randomly plucking a number from the air would be moronic and we know the powers that be are anything but that

Not 35 or 30, no 34.

It must be a magic number whose mystical properties are not apparent to mere mortals like me.

I mean there must be something special about the number 34 isn’t there? Because randomly plucking a number from the air would be moronic and we know the powers that be are anything but that.

Perhaps some research has shown that 33 bad feedback reports would not have picked up Shipman, but the extra one would have just tipped the balance and led to his early arrest?

Similarly the number 15 must have some special significance, as this is the minimum number of colleague feedback surveys we have to submit in the same time period.

Again I assume the significance of the number 15 is not meant to be understood by mere coal-face GPs, because mathematically it makes no sense at all.

After all, most of us have several thousand patients registered at our surgeries yet a lot of us have only a dozen or so immediate colleagues and so struggle to leap through this hoop.

Hospital doctors don’t escape the magic numbers either. For instance it must be a relief to know, when you are working a busy A&E shift on a Friday night, that all your patients will be sitting calmly waiting their turn for 3 hours and 59 minutes.

Luckily the maximum 4 hour waiting time kicks in after this, because any longer and a lot of them would become rude, aggressive and demanding.

The Government is fortunate in that many of the numbers that preoccupy them are far easier to understand.

Take the number 12 for example; I would wager a week’s MDU fee that this number causes Mr Cameron anxiety from time to time.

Dr David Turner is a GP in west London

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Readers' comments (2)

  • I know something about this because I wrote an essay on it for a course I was doing.

    It's not at all plucked out of thin air; it's the result of a complex statistical calculation (exactly akin to a power calculation for a trial) to establish the minimum number of replies before one can assume that any "outlying" result is not just statistical noise. There are papers published around this calculation - though I don't have the references to hand.

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  • It depends on which feedback you use. Crepes or gmc .
    CFEP was validated at minimum 12 feedback results I believe.

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