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Do it once, do it twice, do it three times

Do it once, do it twice, do it three times

Dr David Turner on the work – and patients – that just keep reappearing

As if it wasn’t bad enough that for the past few months, we have been busier than the printers of the 10 Downing Street letterheaded paper, recently we seem to have been having to do the same task multiple times.

Work which we thought had been completed a couple of days previously suddenly reappears on our desks. Here are some examples:

Prescription for drug A not available, please prescribe alternative. Alternative, drug B, prescribed. The next day the request appears again asking for a different formulation of drug B, as the one prescribed ‘does not agree’ with the patient. Nor do I, but that is another story.

Then there are the referral rejections. A comprehensive letter detailing a patient’s history and blood tests results is sent to department X. The next day, a rejection letter appears in my inbox from department X. It never fails to amaze me how quickly they can churn out a rejection letter. It’s a pity that they can’t get the same admin team dispatching discharge reports.

The rejection letter states that the patient will not be accepted until serum and urinary rhubarb levels are done. Oh, and could we please confirm they have been referred to a physio/OT/dietitian/speech therapist and anyone else they can think of where the waiting time to be seen is measured in political terms of office (actually, that was a bad comparison). If I was being cynical, I might say this was a delaying tactic to keep the patient off their waiting list, but cynicism and sarcasm have never been significant personality traits of mine.

Obviously, the old favourites – the consultant dumping letters – are still with us. The usual, ‘Dear GP, thank you for sending blah, blah, blah. I recommend you do the below (read: my job for me) while I scoot off early to get to my private patients. Yours sincerely, Arrogant Bastard.’

And I haven’t even mentioned the patients coming back two or three times in a week with the same virus. ‘I’m not better yet,’ they say. Well, no, you’re not, because you have a virus that takes a long time to recover from – that is, more than the time between one emergency clinic and the next.

Anyway, they say laughter is the best medicine. You have to chuckle, or you’ll go mad.

I’d say let’s hope for a better year. But realistically, let’s just hope for a less bad one.

Happy New Year to all.

Dr David Turner is a GP in Hertfordshire. Read more of his blogs here



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

Christopher Ho 13 January, 2023 12:20 pm

“cynicism and sarcasm have never been significant personality traits of mine” – My question would be, how have you survived so long without them? I would say those are primary requirements for the job…. in a universal, cradle to grave, all you can eat, free at point of delivery, bureaucratic top heavy, service.