GP support organisation Resilient GP has found examples of patients requesting sick notes to cover up infidelity and booking appointments to complain they had previously been unable to book an appointment for a sore throat that had since cleared up.
Its report sets out to highlight the public’s inappropriate use of general practice by publishing a list of almost 200 GP experiences that the group deemed an ‘inappropriate use of their time and skills’.
The report recounts anonymised and, reportedly, recent experiences GPs have had with their patients, including a formal complaint for giving unsatisfactory advice on emigrating to Australia.
It follows a fierce debate over patient demand at the Pulse Live 2015 conference last week, where Resilient GP co-founder Dr Stephanie De Giorgio told the audience ‘some patients take the piss’.
The Resilient GP report stated that it was ‘now time to ask whether general practice is being used appropriately’.
The survey found a series of inappropriate patient demands, including a woman asking for an operation as her chin ‘looks too fat on Facebook’ and a man asking for a sick note after going on holiday with his mistress.
The report added: ‘These may sound like extreme examples, but they are all genuine, recent events. GPs report that while such requests are not new, they now occur far more frequently.’
It concluded: ‘It is increasingly difficult to justify spending so much time dealing with matters such as those listed above.’
Speaking at Pulse Live last week, Dr De Giorgio said: ‘You can blame some patients, and I am absolutely sick to death of every time I go on Twitter and say something about patients using the system inappropriately, someone accuses me of patient blaming. Until we deal with that attitude we’re not going to be able to have a reasonable debate.
‘Yes, some patients take the piss, quite frankly. They do. And we have to address those ones.’
Former RCGP chair Professor Clare Gerada said: ‘You’re on a sticky wicket to do that. Last week, I was spat at in the face by a patient; they always have and you have to deal with them.
‘But when you have adverts on the back of buses, saying “go and see your GP if you’ve had a cough for 30 seconds”, do not blame them. That’s what they’re told to do.’