First can I say a big THANK YOU for your efforts in these extraordinary times. I know how difficult it has been to maintain a bulletin service over the last year. And I realise you really have gone the extra mile in maintaining the flow of helpful diktats despite very difficult circumstances. I can only apologise that my attempt to initiate a regular ‘Clap for our NHSE heroes’ did not take off as I’d hoped. Though it did have a sort of Zen calm.
But it is becoming apparent that certain facets which would normally underpin these bulletins appeared to remain locked away. These include, but are not restricted to, logic, common sense, consistency, coherence and sensitivity. So I am asking you, from 9am tomorrow morning, to reopen the doors to meaningful communication.
This has been prompted by yesterday’s bulletin, which advised us to consider seeing children under five with respiratory symptoms. It managed to be at once patronising, contradictory and inflammatory.
As a GP of 30+ years experience, I am aware that these children might sometimes be ill and require assessment, though thank you for the timely reminder. But this creates immediate issues of potentially Covid positive patients flooding the surgery and also completely contradicts the advice on your own coronavirus public web-pages, which instructs cases with any of the relevant symptoms not to contact or attend the GP but to liaise with 111.
And somehow you condensed this advice into a statement which in effect said we should see all kids with colds F2F – a line which, of course, the media have faithfully transcribed (Times headline today: ‘Doctors urged to see children in person’).
This, of course, comes hot on the heels of your bulletin warning us that we GPs should see all patients F2F on request – guidance which was completely contradicted by PHE’s latest version of infection prevention and control policy which appeared a few days later.
At least I now know why you call them bulletins. Because every time I receive one, I feel like you have taken careful aim and, with the ruthlessness of the average assassin, put a bullet in my sanity.
So as of tomorrow morning, my ask of you is that you send no more of these remote messages. I want, instead, for you to restore the traditional values of communication, which means you having to explain your latest directives to each GP face-to-face. I realise this is a huge task and you are already buckling under an unsustainable workload. But I don’t give a f**k.
All the best for the summer,