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Dumb zombie apocalypse groundhog day now

Dumb zombie apocalypse groundhog day now

Dr Copperfield on the horror that is general practice

If general practice was a movie, which would it be? Groundhog Day? Apocalypse Now? Dumb and Dumber?

We’re spoilt for choice, really. But for me, the one that really describes the existential torture that is our day-job would be Dawn of the Dead. Every day, we are assailed by endless hordes of the living dead – or rather, the potentially dead living.

We do what we can, but all our zombie-disposal outlets are blocked. Referrals are rejected, turned into advice and guidance or delayed indefinitely. Ambulances we call don’t arrive or bounce patients back to us. And patients refuse to attend A&E because of the horrendous waits.

All we have left to deflect the unliving is a prescription – but even this is a gun with no ammunition, because drug shortages have the patient staggering back to us, pleading and desperate.

We are trapped in this nightmare with no escape. The ongoing care, responsibility and medicolegal risk remains with us 24/7. We no longer have any outlet and, like any other horror movie, it makes us want to scream.

And we all know these plots don’t end well. Which is why I’ve barricaded myself in my consulting room. I’m watching It’s a Wonderful Life on a loop and reminding myself of what a great job general practice used to be.

But it doesn’t completely suppress the terror. Because I can hear them out there, behind the door. They’re moaning, groaning and mumbling about appointments, tests and amoxicillin. There’s a scratching at the door that turns into a hammering. As I write, they’re actually trying to break in. I think they have an axe, and any second now

Dr Copperfield is a GP in Essex. Read more of his blogs here



Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

Paul Burgess 24 February, 2023 3:48 pm

Here’s a wizard wheeze that might help. Include folic acid in a some blood tests. It will invariably come back a bit below the ‘normal’ range. Prescribe 4 months folic acid 5mg daily. Offer to see them after that if they’re still tired.

Dylan Summers 26 February, 2023 11:22 am


Best add vitamin D just in case folic acid comes back normal.

Truth Finder 28 February, 2023 5:38 pm

Hilarious but sadly true. Thanks Copperfield! Someone did have a crossbow for their GP not an axe. The government has decimated General Practice to this level painting us as the enemy when it is their poor management, lack of funding and staffing that is the problem. We are not the enemy but struggling helpers. Nobody goes into medicine wanting patients to be more ill.

Thomas Robinson 1 March, 2023 8:19 pm

An incredibly common theme, I think all my colleagues indulge in this, undoubtedly, wonderful life has to be considered, however, over 40 years I have a slightly different bibliography

As a tutor, School for scoundrels, Terry Thomas, Ian Carmichael, and the outstanding Alaister Sims, was my standard. I taught the students to watch it on a wet Sunday afternoon, with a glass of whatever, and ponder the inexorable truth.

For those considering actually entering practice, and those attempting to practice, Kelly’s heroes. I rarely recommended it to the great and good, college, BMA , Deanery, etc on the grounds they would be unlikely to understand.However for those outside the profession, politicians, patients, taxpayers, it is a simple illustration of the reality, that our leaders comprehend nothing of human nature, and therefore are committed to the failure of the service.

On a day to day basis, confronting disgruntled patients, at the rate of eight to nine per hour, Yes Minister series 2 episode 1 drives home the message, you have paid for incompetence, watch and weep. It is comedy, but true. Thatcher vouched for the truth of it.

Apologies if I missed better illustrations of our unfolding national tragedy

Paul Burgess 2 March, 2023 4:40 pm

Thanks! Please explain