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We need to be shielded from more NHS advice

What a strange world general practice is at present. One in which patients and GPs are working in perfect harmony, and that’s not a phrase I thought would ever appear in a blog of mine. But it’s true. We don’t want them to attend and, frankly, nor do they.

That’s why both parties have, almost overnight, become absolute experts in remote management. This week, for me, our new modus operandi reached what must be an unbeatable peak, because the sum total of my physical patient interaction comprised one left testicle. Video consultations are good, but not so good that they can rule out testicle cancer. That said, maybe next time he could just drop it off and I could return it remotely as an attachment. Yes, that’s right, as a texticle.

If only NHSE seemed to be on the same wavelength, then everything would be going, if not swimmingly, then less drowningly. And yet. Here they go again with that shielding list. After numerous iterations, reiterations and re-reiterations, we have been warned in recent episodes of the Covid 19 Primary Care Bulletin that we’ve all become so familiar with, that there’s an update to the shielded list affecting ‘a small number of people’, yada yada.

One patient has received a shielding text on the basis of one prescription of methotrexate which she didn’t take

Cue a switchboard meltdown caused by that ‘small number of people’ having anxious/livid queries along the lines of why, who says, and, in particular, how come you’re telling me now when we’re already half way through the shielding period?

Not that they should worry, if the experience of my GP colleague is anything to go by: she has just received her own shielding text on the basis of one prescription of methotrexate from over a year ago which she didn’t take for an inflammatory arthritis that she turned out not to have.

Please, NHSE. Shield us from any more shielding letters, and if you can’t do that, make the process less like the lottery. You’re disturbing the peace that has broken out between GP and patients. Dream up something else. If I’ve worked out how to deal with testicles remotely, surely you too can come up with something innovative and useful. So sort out the postal cervix and we could crack on with smears.

Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex. Read more of Copperfield’s blogs at