So now that Covid isn’t officially a thing anymore – which is a bit odd given the eye-watering numbers and the fact that all our staff are off ill – we’ve been giving the punters full choice over remote v F2F. And they’ve been voting with their feet, specifically those feet that march them directly to the surgery.
Which is fine, because I’m really enjoying seeing patients again. I know that sounds like I’ve had a lobotomy and my frontals replaced by recycled RCGP-grade cardie-fluff. But it’s true. It’s great being able to put a face to a name, examine rather than rely on fuzzy descriptions or blurred images and have the patient onside enough to accept your diagnosis and management without that remote dissatisfied scepticism. It’s certainly much more worthwhile and less dangerous than medicine-by-phone-numbers.
As far as I can see, there are only two drawbacks.
One is that my patients seem to have developed a strange preoccupation with actual or perceived problems with their genitals. True, this is in Essex, though I’m not sure that fully explains it. Perhaps there’s a hitherto undiscovered link between Covid and genital dysmorphophobia. Or maybe lockdown led to a lot of navel gazing and that gaze just drifted unhealthily south a bit. Or maybe, you know, with all the boredom and isolation…but let’s not over-speculate – I think that can give you blurred vision. The fact is, I’ve been deluged with the vulval, vaginal, penile and scrotal, which I’m struggling to code because ‘face to face’ doesn’t do it justice.
And the other is that most of my F2F consultations not involving genitals comprise patients moaning about the lack of F2F consultations in secondary care. This is across the board, though the greatest venom is reserved for the musculoskeletal sector. Apparently, when you’re in agony with your back or your joints, a chat on the phone, a leaflet or link for some DIY exercises and a follow-up appointment in six months are seen as less than helpful. Funny, that, although MSK don’t see it that way. But then they don’t see anything.
So maybe secondary care should start waking up to the fact, as we have, that the laying on of hands, or at least eyes, adds disproportionate value to the consultation. I’ve got enough going on with my Privates Clinic, so it would be helpful if they could step up. If they don’t, I shall write to all hospital departments to complain. Better still, I’ll tell it to their faces.
Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex. Read more of Copperfield’s blogs at http://www.pulsetoday.co.uk/views/copperfield