So apparently there are these things called microaggressions going around, but you might not realise it because the news coverage has been really, really small. Now I’ve been enlightened, though, I realise that – as with absolutely everything else in life – it’s actually we GPs that suffer the most. Here are some examples that happened to me only yesterday:
‘I know it’s been a difficult time but I think you GPs are doing a great job.’ Just to remind me that there has been some doubt about this.
‘You know me, doctor – I only come when it’s really necessary.’ Means exactly the opposite and carries the implied threat, ‘So you’d better not fob me off’. Much the same as, ‘You know I have a high pain threshold, doctor.’
‘I just need a referral.’ Anything with ‘just’ in front of it – just need a scan, just need antibiotics, just need a sick note – indicates that the patient knows what he wants but that this might not be what he needs/deserves, and that I could be a barrier to that. And yes, the word ‘just’ automatically means that I will. Be a barrier, I mean.
‘This will only take a minute’. Same concept as ‘I just need a referral’. So, obviously, it will take a lot longer.
‘You’re so popular’. Subtext: I’ve waited three weeks to see you and I’m going to get my money’s worth.
‘What I like about you doctor, is that you always listen.’ Meaning, ‘Are you actually listening to me?’ Good point. In fact, did you actually just say that, or did I imagine it?
‘What I like about you, doctor, is that you always give me time’. Same game-plan as the above. They’re warning me this consultation could go on forever.
‘Long time no see!’ Pathognomic of Daily Mail reader and means, ‘You’ve crawled out of your Covid bunker at last.’
‘I found you very helpful last time’. Big red flag. So the other GPs are useless and you’d better live up to my expectations or I’m going to complain.
‘I think it’s appalling people spraying anti-GP graffiti’. Meaning he’s at least considered it and only didn’t do so because he can’t spell ‘wanker’.
We can, of course, fight micro-fire with micro-fire – which is probably why, when I saw another patient yesterday presenting with, ‘I hope I’m not wasting your time’ (ie ‘That’s how you’ve made me feel in the past, doctor’), I replied, ‘Yes, let’s hope it’s nothing trivial.’ Or is that macro aggression? It’s so hard to tell these days.
Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex. Read more of Copperfield’s blogs at http://www.pulsetoday.co.uk/views/copperfield