This site is intended for health professionals only

Another bout of gratuitous GP-kicking

Copperfield invites the Patients' Council to come and have a go if they think they're hard enough.

OK, just get over the fact that, for reasons I don't wish to go into, I was reading the Sun the other day. The point is, I came across this story, ‘Doctor doctor my socks are too tight!'

It's a fairly predictable rant from a casualty unit about patients abusing the service. Because it seems that they've been turning up complaining of tight socks, itchy toes and the fact that they've got nowhere to put a dead dog that had been run over (don't they have canals in Bolton?).

Anyway, here's the fun bit. Who's to blame for this A&E abuse? Casualty doctors because they obligingly dish out the antibiotics for coughs and colds that the local GP has already declined? No. The patients themselves on the basis that those who camp out in casualty do so either because they find it geographically convenient or because they're serial abusers of all NHS services? Wrong again. Have another guess.

Yes, that's right: it's we GPs, of course.

We know this because Paul Mainwaring, from the Patients' Council, is quoted as saying: ‘The bottom line is that in this day and age people have busy lives, different working patterns, shifts etc, but most GPs are still only working Monday to Friday, nine-to five.'

Now, I realise that drum-banging, punter-power-obsessed spokespeople have a mandate to fly the patient flag. But that doesn't entitle them to spout drivel and gratuitously kick GPs.

We're actually contracted to provide services from eight in the morning to six thirty in the evening, Mr Mainwaring. And the vast majority of practices do extended hours surgeries – in the evenings and at weekends. So when patients are bored of terrorising the casualty staff, they have plenty of opportunities to haunt us, too.

None of this is news to any GPs reading, of course. Nor is the fact that we're the default guilty party when anything goes wrong.

What might come as a surprise, though, is my suggestion for sorting it out. Because if the Patients' Council wants to brainlessly GP-bash, maybe it's time we should retaliate and invite them to step outside for a proper fight.

Loser goes to casualty.

'Sick Notes' by Dr Tony Copperfield is out now, available from Monday Books.

Copperfield Copperfield