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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Just call me Pete

Dr Pete Deveson

Dr Pete Deveson BLOG duo_3x2

As of today, I am no longer Dr Deveson. Jeremy Hunt has demanded we stop using our surnames at work, and you can understand why; if I’d been unfortunately spoonerised on national TV as often as he has, I’m sure I’d be saying the same thing. But the erstwhile hulture secretary has a less selfish motivation for wanting your local hospital’s consultant directory to read like the Brazilian national teamsheet; it’s apparently all part of a drive to reduce medical errors in hospital

‘It is one of the only professions where we are talking about “Mr this” and “Dr that” rather than first-name terms,’ explained the Right Honourable Member of Parliament for South West Surrey.

This campaign displays the hallmark signs of Mr Hunt’s many previous crusades; allowing him to posture as the heroic new broom sweeping clean, providing him a clinical stick with which to beat the workforce while brushing the multiple failings in the NHS for which a Health Secretary might reasonably be held responsible under the carpet. Its aims may be laudable, but past experience leaves me somewhat cynical about the likely outcomes.

Remember his plans to cure dementia by 2020? (No? Well, give it another two years and you just might… #bdumtish!) Or what about promising to foster a learning culture in the NHS, only to see his former advisor Charlie Massey take over at the GMC and punish a doctor’s clinical errors with erasure from the register, going directly against the organisation’s own regulator and putting the kibosh on duty of candour? And that’s before we get on to the 5,000 GPs…

I wonder why I bother, especially when you remember what happens to doctors who prescribe too late

Those 5,000 nameless (well, surnameless anyway) new recruits will have their own role to play in Mr Hunt’s safety revolution; GP prescribing is to come under renewed scrutiny, and the first order of business is antibiotics, of which one fifth are said to be prescribed inappropriately.

Of course, ‘inappropriateness’ is in the eye of the beholder. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve had my life saved by antibiotics and I want them to be around in 30 years’ time to enable my future joint replacements, so I’m usually quite happy to play Batman to the hordes of pharyngitic Robins in my waiting room. But then I look at the Government promoting the use of remote smartphone consultation with doctors whose antibiotic stewardship seems to be modelled on Oprah Winfrey’s attitude to car keys (‘You get augmentin! You get augmentin! Everybody gets augmentin!’) and I wonder why I bother, especially when you remember what happens to doctors who prescribe too late.

So occasionally, the pressure to bypass a tedious complaint-generating stand-off and get home to my kids on time by slipping a demanding punter a conflict-resolving placebo script for Clearoffromycin or Scrampicillin can be very hard to resist.

But I’ll do my best in this campaign, until Mr Hunt’s next brainwave comes along, and it gets quietly forgotten. Meanwhile, just call me Pete...

Dr Pete Deveson is a GP in Surrey


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Readers' comments (11)

  • Well I am not surprised. Because we all have patients that have decided to use our first names uninvited. Overwhelmingly the reasons are to be manipulative, to be creepy and over-familiar, or exert power over you. I can think of a single patient in my GP career that has used my first name with no obvious subtext and just because they were being nice.

    And what a surprise that "Jeremy" is suggesting this. Because he's exactly the same kind of creepy, over-familiar, manipulative and bullying twazzock to call us by our first names uninvited!

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  • I think we should just continue to misuse 'Jezza's' second name. far more appropriate in any case.

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  • "Doctor--I have been a patient here for a long time. Is it ok if I use your furst name?"

    "No problem at all Mr Smith"

    "Oh great Jeremy (sic)--I am worried about my piles"

    "No problem at all Mr Smith. Shall I have a peak at your tail end"

    etc etc etc

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  • Rick C-137

    It’s apparently all part of a drive to reduce medical errors in hospital.

    Making peoples writing legible
    would be a better idea

    Emis/system1 used as hospital records

    Results automatically in the notes

    There... you can have those for free
    now stop with the stupid suggestions...

    We have named responsible gp's

    Lets have named responsible consultants

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  • Rick C-137

    Please let all the people of England know
    You are the named responsible health secretary

    In fact that should be your title from now on
    not health secratary

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  • Hunt...well meaning [this comment has been moderated]

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  • Just Your Average Joe

    My first name is for friends and family.

    Years spent getting my degree and medical qualifications, and countless hours spent maintaining my medical registration - result in my right to be call Dr XXXXXXX.

    Jeremy has not earned this right so he can take this suggestion and stack it with the 5000 missing GPs, and the smart idea of taking away student nurse bursaries in the middle of a recruitment and retention crisis.

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  • Calling the boss by their first name is an idea stolen from the aviation industry. What our dearest Mr Hunt forgets is that thousands of deadly airplane crashes and countless improvements happened before the cherry on top first name calling appeared. Yet another empty sound bite Jeremy.

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  • He just envies and despises our status, in equal measures.

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  • doctordog.

    I used to envy my now retired senior partner.
    His first name was almost unpronounceable .

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