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GPs can’t do spirometry? That’s our workload issues sorted



Yeah, you’ve got me bang to rights, Association for Respiratory Technology and Physiology (ARTP). We do our own spirometry, but I’ve always wondered what all those spirometric graphs and stats meant – and never really cared to be honest, because the patients all seem to end up on the same inhalers regardless.

All of which I also intend to refer to secondary care from now on

So, fair play, to raise standards, I’m going to have to hang up my spirometer and send all my pink puffers and blue bloaters to puff and bloat their way to the local respiratory clinic. Though, obvs, that’ll make the waiting list so long they may well gasp their last before they’re seen.

And while I’m in confessional mode, I should probably point out that I’m also bit crap at a whole heap of other primary care clinical interpretations. You know, ambulatory BP monitoring, 24 hours ECGs, blood tests, examination findings, and answers patients give me to questions like, ‘What can I do for you today?’ All of which I also intend to refer to secondary care from now on, so that’s our workload issues sorted.

There is another way of looking at this, though. And that’s to say, hold on, ARTP, UK Primary Care Respiratory Society and ‘other expert groups’. I do believe I have to go through an annual appraisal and five yearly revalidation to certify that I am a competent GP, and that competence as a generalist encompasses stuff like interpreting spirometry, which is actually just one of a myriad tasks I can do, ta.

And if you do decide to decree that spirometry and its interpretation is outside of the realm of normal general practice then, fine, that’ll be one lucrative enhanced service fee please, for which I’d be delighted to jump whatever stupid hoops you care to dream up.

Anyway, must stop now. You’re getting me all het up, and I can’t tell if I’m hyperventilating or if my asthma’s playing up. There must be a test for that, but buggered if I know what it is.

Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex. You can follow him on Twitter @DocCopperfield