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Multi-tasking is one thing but this is too much



I see a mother aged 41 about her period and a daughter age four with an URTI.

. I am running on time and diligently explore their concerns and expectations and how it’s affecting their lives. I examine and involve them in decisions, make some accomplished connecting and summarising, ensure they have understood and give them a chance to ask questions. I then start on the housekeeping.

But wait! I have not finished my agenda yet. The electronic Post-It note glares down at me from the top of the screen.

• Is her thyroxine blood check up to date?

• Has she had a BP check?

• Is her smear up to date?

• Is she aware of all the long-acting reversible contraception there is available?

• Would she like to join our weight-loss programme?

• Or our smoking-cessation programme?

• Have I completed the depression questionnaire?

• Would she like to come to our NHS health check?

• Are her daughter’s vaccines up to date?

• What is her ethnicity?

Phew – finished! I leave her slightly taken aback and me running late. I duly tick my list and enter the Read codes.

I do wonder whether I am family doctor, public health consultant or just trapped in a points-win-prizes culture.

At what point does it become cold-calling on behalf of the Government? I don’t mind multi-tasking but the job is changing rapidly. Our agenda is getting bigger than the patients’ and we now have to see more patients in less time too. Maybe consultation times needs to increase to fulfil our needs!

Still, at least I have made time for self-reflection on the consultation by writing this…

Dr Katie Williams
Surbiton, Surrey