Copperfield has made no personal New Year’s resolutions but has one or two ideas for charities, politicians… and his colleagues
To those who’ve called me foul-mouthed and doctor-centric in the past, I’d say this: you just don’t see primary care from the GP’s perspective, and that’s the only one that counts, tossers. Which is why, this year, I haven’t made any New Year’s resolutions for myself – but I have a few suggestions for everyone else.
Pre-op assessment nurses. All you do is measure blood pressure and dipstick urine, yet you manage to screw both up. A slight blip in BP when you’ve just outlined the possible complications of an aneurysm repair does not constitute hypertension. And positive nitrites or whatever in an asymptomatic patient are of no interest to anyone, least of all to me and my prescription pad. Your New Year’s resolution is to stop this nonsense and get a proper job.
Receptionists. Telling me there’s a visit request at 6.29pm, inevitably involving the words ‘faecal’ and ‘incontinence’, is absolutely no reason to smile. From now on, when relaying this sort of message, adopt a suitably apologetic tone, and deliver it with tea.
Private health screeners. You can stop sending me pages of irrelevant crap about tests that should never have been done in the first place. And you can start following up any abnormalities yourself.
Psychiatrists. ‘Dear Dr Copperfield, your patient did not attend clinic today, so I’ve discharged him from the mental health services back to your care.’ Brilliant – never mind that he DNA’d because he’s convinced you’re working for the CIA and is more in need of shrink care than ever. So stop exploiting your patients’ pathology as a way of reducing the waiting lists.
Pharmacists. Look, snot is supposed to be green. Stop sending these patients to me for antibiotics when they actually just need a pack of tissues.
Charities. Stop coming up with dumb-ass initiatives such as telling punters that back pain is a likely sign of prostate cancer, or encouraging them to take their own pulse to detect AF. Whimsical ideas may get you publicity, but they also spoil my day by packing out the waiting room with the worried well.
Educationalists. Stop teaching communication skills to the exclusion of everything else, because we end up with doctors who are brilliant communicators but have nothing useful to say. And, for Chrissakes, shave those bloody beards off.
Community nurses. Stop taking CSUs because the urine ‘looks cloudy’ or swabs because the wound ‘looks messy’. You may have time to waste, but I haven’t and nor has the microbiology lab.
Opticians. Learn how to check blood sugars and blood pressures yourselves if you’re so bloody good at suspecting diabetes and hypertension just by looking at someone’s retina.
Macmillan nurses. Stop asking me to prescribe nutrition supplements to ‘build up’ terminally ill patients. It’s not sensible or possible: cancer is the ultimate miracle diet, it just doesn’t know when to stop.
Consultants. Stop sending me copies of lab results of tests you’ve ordered. These aren’t ‘for my information’, as you claim, they’re ‘for your convenience’ because you’re dumping them in my lap.
McVitie’s. Stop making your packs of Hob Nobs so hard to get into – it’s an emergency.
Politicians. Just stop.
Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex. You can email him at tony firstname.lastname@example.org