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Any chance of some doctor-centred guidelines?

Copperfield vents his fury at the banalities of NICE guidance documents.

In life, it’s often the minor annoyances that provoke the greatest reaction. (I cite in evidence the case of an elderly man who shot his long term best friend dead because he ‘couldn’t stand the way he smacked his lips when eating’, as related to me down the pub by my own long term best friend, oddly enough who, I’m pretty sure, wasn’t holding a gun at the time, though I did put down my bag of crisps just in case).

Anyway, it’s the same with NICE guidance. There’s lots to get annoyed about. Yet it’s the teensiest weensiest thing that really rattles my cage. It’s this:

‘Patient-centred care: Treatment and care should take into account patients’ individual needs and preferences.

‘Good communication is essential, supported by evidence-based information, to allow patients to reach informed decisions about their care. Follow advice on seeking consent from the Department of Health or Welsh Assembly Government if needed. If the patient agrees, families and carers should have the opportunity to be involved in decisions about treatment and care.’

This, or a virtually identical version of it, appears right at the beginning of every NICE quick reference guide. Obviously, NICE seems to think it needs to remind us every single time it pronounces that care must be ‘patient-centred’. So there it is. Without fail. Care must be patient-centred. Care must be patient-centred. Care must be patient-centred. All right. ALL RIGHT. I HEAR YOU.

Look, NICE, what sort of patient care do you think I’m going to practice, especially if I’m the kind of doctor who’s bothered to take the time to read one of your stupid guidelines? Doctor-centred? Praline-centred? Shopping-centred?

This is just precious, patronising, politically correct tokenism and, as you can possibly tell IT’S DRIVING ME MENTAL. We all know that care is supposed to be patient-centred – it’s not like I keep wondering who the hell these twats are that insist on interrupting my reverie every ten minutes. And, let’s face it, when the ‘quick reference’ guides to your bloated, pompous exercises in unreality themselves run to very many pages, any opportunities for cutting down should be grasped.

So, NICE, stop it. Stop it now. Patient-centred care, fine. But, please, doctor-centred guidelines.

Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex

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