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GP to kindly be more kind

GP to kindly be more kind

Columnist Dr Copperfield responds to a recent barrage of advice from charities and organisations about how GPs could improve the way they do their jobs

We GPs are all things to all men and women. So it maybe shouldn’t be a great surprise that all men and women seem to want a say in how we do our jobs. That said, this last month or so has been pretty extraordinary.

A quick headline count reveals around half a dozen examples of how we could be doing things better. So, we should be ‘more engaged’ (in firearms licensing), ‘more careful’ (in defining people fit for extreme sports) and ‘less dismissive’ (about ME/CFS. Dismissive about ME/CFS?! Get out of here!)

Oh, we should also be ‘more supportive’ (in writing letter supporting emotional support pets, like dogs. Ridiculous. Dogs can’t even read.)

The most recent ‘do more/do less’ headlines really caught my eye, though. The first was, ‘Think cancer, say charities’. Yes, I know. I know I know I know. I’d not heard of it, either. But apparently there is this thing called cancer going around. It’s actually pretty bad. Anyway, one for your PDP. I’ve already tried putting it into practice. So, the very next patient I saw with an ingrowing toenail, I thought, ‘bowel cancer’. You can’t be too careful, I explained.

This brings me to the final headline, which is that, according to new GMC guidance, we should be ‘kind’. So I’ve checked this out and apparently that means being friendly, generous and benevolent. Presumably as well as being more engaged, careful, supportive and cancer-thinking, and less dismissive. That’s a lot, and I guess it means my ‘I don’t care in the community’ mission statement has to go. It’ll also mean an empathy domain in next year’s QOF, where you use one hand to hold theirs and the other to tick a box.

Anyway, I tried the ‘kind’ thing on my my toenail patient who I was referring on a 2ww to rule out colon cancer (that’s what the ‘gut feeling’ criterion is for, right?) She was pretty upset, so I kindly told her I could get her a support dog if that would help. It didn’t seem to, because she walked out.

It’s difficult being a GP. If only people could tell us how to do it better.

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



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

Catrinel Wright 24 August, 2023 6:25 pm

There are many things that came to my mind when I read the latest guidance from the GMC on ” being kind”; what about an obligation for all the patients who contact us to be kind and polite to the health care professionals and admin staff they come in contact with? To use NHS limited resource wisely, and take personal responsibility for their own well being, and promote this to their friends , family and neighbours? Not a peep from anybody of all that; instead I am supposed to be kind to someone calling me to demand I fix their damp flat ( which they own). No wonder GPs are leaving in droves…

David Church 24 August, 2023 7:14 pm

Am I to be more kind to the NHS staff by deflecting all requests for referrals, or am I to be kind to the patients by referring them to all specialties they want whenever they request?
PS please be kind to me and do not answer ‘both’, thankyou)

Truth Finder 25 August, 2023 6:32 pm

Everyone think that they know best and can offer the experienced GP some advice except that it is the GP that has the knowledge AND clinical experience and actually treats the patient while these hot air are well, just hot air. All talk and no action. Sort the patient out if they are that good. Please.

Dr No 25 August, 2023 9:08 pm

Yeah my bullshit tolerance tank is at 95%. Thing is I’m super cool till it’s brimmed. Every 10 years or so I go off. It takes some people/colleagues by surprise. If you’ve seen Oppenheimer you’ll know. I’m almost willing some jerk to push my button. GMC? so far so good. We are due a CQC however. I’ve not got a lot to lose now. I’m gonna enjoy my last 18 months…

Dr No 25 August, 2023 9:10 pm

Readers will note I’m warming up in the kindly pages of Pulse Mag comments section!… don’t they have moderators here? 😉

Merlin Wyltt 1 September, 2023 6:57 am

Dr Margaret Ikpoh is a GP in Holderness, East Yorkshire

Please note, we have disabled comments on this piece due to a number of complaints and some potentially libellous comments. This was a decision taken by the editor. We are currently updating our comments policy, which will be released in the coming weeks

This is a worrying blow for free speech. Just remove the libellous comments. I found the article offensive- but I’m not asking for it to be removed. She has an opinion that she is free to express. I chose to read that opinion.