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Independents' Day

‘I can signpost you to the Pope if you prefer?’


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As far as I can tell, blurry-brained educationalists haven’t come up with a new ‘consultation model’ for at least half an hour, which must be something of a record.

Perhaps that’s because they’ve run out of Wacky Acronyms for New Consultation Structures (one of the few things they won’t acronymise).

But more likely it’s because the Groundhog-Day grind of coalface general practice means that, these days, the consultation structure pretty much defines itself. And this, inevitably, is how it goes:

Intro: ‘I’ve waited weeks for this appointment, doc – it’s easier getting an audience with the Pope than seeing you.’ This is now officially the commonest and crappest patient joke in primary care, having recently overtaken the standard quip to any coughing, snuffling or croaking GP of, ‘You should see a doctor!’ which has held the commonest/crappest joke #1 slot since 1948.

Mid section: This invariably consists of the patient explaining that the symptom they originally booked the appointment for has completely resolved, although they’d still like your opinion on it, and that in the meantime they have developed a number of other symptoms they want you to look into, and that there was something else they booked for which, having waited so long for an appointment, they can no longer recall but which does ‘remind’ them that they’re worried about their memory, so could you check that too? When you have done all this and are about to close the consultation, they remember what the other problem was they originally booked the appointment for. It will be tiredness or dizziness. Or both.

Outro: You are well into consultation injury time by this point, so you say you will book them another appointment to deal with that last issue. The problem here is the appointment screen shows you are block-booked for the foreseeable future, and any conversation about this will cycle you back to the intro of this consultation, causing a Groundhog Day within a Groundhog Day. The solution is to point out that you can fit them in with the Pope next week.

Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex


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Readers' comments (11)

  • If you comply with the latest WANKSY guidelines and give the service-user/patient the autonomy to facilitate the booking of their own follow-up appointments, this problem will become more infrequent???

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  • David Banner

    “It’s easier to see the Pope!”
    “Indeed, you are correct, if not particularly original. I saw the Pope in St Peter’s Square doing his weekly multilingual blessing, just walked in, no appointment, easy. I’m FAR harder to see than the Pope. Now, what seems to be the problem my child?”

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  • This groundhog day scenario is genius Coppers!

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  • time for a mass consultation then

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  • Don't forget 'you've been busy today, doc', code for 'why are you running an hour late and delaying me?' before getting out a list written on a toilet roll.

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  • End of the line?

    Could do with the pope mobile
    (bullet proof glass box)
    on some home visits

    (so much for trusting God)

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  • End of the line?

    May be easier to see the Pope
    but given the child abuse scandals
    and cover ups (The fruits)
    hopefully there will have
    been a full CRB check up

    Matthew 7:15 is the fifteenth verse of the seventh chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament and is part of the Sermon on the Mount. This verse begins the section warning against false prophets. ... Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's. clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

    Matthew 7:16-20 King James Version (KJV)
    16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

    17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.

    18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

    19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

    20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

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  • You're spot on.
    "I'm sorry, Mrs Smith, but since you've spent 9 minutes moaning at how hard it is to get an appointment, you only have 1 minute left for me to sort out your 11 problems ("I don't come often, so I've brought a list"), and try and get through all your QOF prompts..."

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  • the one I hate is when they leave saying
    'thanks anyway' - it implies in a polite if devious way that my efforts were useless....

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  • End of the line?

    Like the missiz always get the last word...

    -- oh well.. at least you've got
    some peace of mind now

    -- come back if you need to...

    -- nooo problemmo ... here to help
    ( wink click click )

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