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We can fight back against this state of discontentment

We can fight back against this state of discontentment

Columnist Dr Copperfield suggests how GPs could find job satisfaction in the less enjoyable aspects of the profession

I know. I don’t understand it either. Why, given the respect we command from media, colleagues and patients, a perfectly functioning NHS stewarded by a decent government, and pay which fairly reflects our workload and responsibilities, would GPs be ‘the most discontented among UK doctors’? 

It makes absolutely no sense. While we ponder that, though, I would like to highlight one area that has been repeatedly cited as a morale sapper: workload dump. I think we’re looking at this all wrong, and firmly believe we can turn it into a positive. In fact, I’ve managed to find a way to make that skip-load of utter crap slurried over our heads every morning a source of deep joy – here’s a genuine example from today to illustrate the point.

An ECG tracing is handed in at reception by a patient on industrial-strength antipsychotics, on which is (literally) scribbled ‘Dfrr GP, pls nrt nd srt plnged Qt itrval’. Forensic scrutiny and opinions from colleagues suggest it might mean something along the lines of: ‘Dear GP, please note and sort prolonged QT interval.’ It is unsigned and lacking any further detail. Yet more scrutiny (this time of history and recent correspondence etc.) leads me to believe that this ECG tracing is from the mental health unit. 

This enables me to reply as follows: ‘Dear psychiatrist, regarding the scrappy ECG trace you scribbled over: noted but not sorted because: a) We are no longer funded to do ECGs in primary care and; b) Even if we were, it’s your responsibility to follow up this ECG – which you did because of the drugs you are prescribing and which you presumably know how to alter accordingly, and if you don’t, please ring a cardiologist (heart doctor). Regards, I’m not telling you who this is from. PS. Sorry if this is difficult to read, I didn’t realise how hard it is to write on toilet paper. PPS. u cn nw frk orf.’

You see? These workload dumps are not so much an existential threat as they are an opportunity for joyful catharsis. Frankly, these days, they are my main source of job satisfaction. So, to the disgruntled hordes thinking of jumping ship for foreign climes: You may get the sunshine, but you won’t get that same warm glow.

Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex 



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

Keith M Laycock 16 April, 2024 8:25 pm

tu fr ry o’ssh n wt’n wdm.

Just My Opinion 16 April, 2024 8:53 pm

I just refer straight to cardiology. If they dump it on us, I dump it right back.

Dr No 16 April, 2024 11:00 pm

Tempting… but I see workload dump as a sign of our secondary care colleagues being equally inundated as we are. This inter-speciality conflict is an example of divide and rule by the Tories. We need a general medical strike across the whole NHS. United we should stand, and bring down this appalling rabble.

So the bird flew away 16 April, 2024 11:04 pm

“The wise man takes the crap slurried over his head, shovels it into the ground and grows roses.”
Dr Pangloss

A B 18 April, 2024 9:13 am

Don’t worry in the future these letters will be processed by a highly skilled “correspondence allied health care professional” who’ll get the patient to take the letter to a&e.