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