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The latest distraction from seeing patients



Dr david turner duo 3x2

If you have yet to encounter the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), I can tell you it’s right up there with being water-boarded in methanol as a life experience.

This latest hoop for us to leap through means everybody in our surgeries must have done online training in the new regulations by 26 May.

The teaching module for this takes an hour and is composed of seemingly endless lists of incomprehensible legalistic twaddle that could induce torpor in a group of hyperactive toddlers at a Haribos party on Christmas eve.

I’m no genius, but I’m not an idiot and I could only understand a fraction of this guff. Guff we have to give paid time to our secretaries, receptionists and nurses to read instead of dealing with patients.

The growth of supposedly mandatory online training courses is relentless

From what I could understand of GDPR it is to do with tightening up data protection so people have more access to their data and companies have to make you opt in rather than opt out of receiving communications from them. Oh yes and we can’t charge patients to see their notes any more.

That’s all I got out of an hour where I could have been seeing patients. Multiply that across all the staff in the surgery and it comes to 20-odd hours of wasted practice staff time.

We need to know about it, but surely the practice manager can be given all the information about GDPR and then share it, in a summarised format with the rest of the team.

If it was only GDPR it might be tolerable, but as we know this is the tip of the iceberg. The growth of supposedly mandatory online training courses is relentless. Adult safeguarding, child safeguarding, consent, equality and diversity, infection control, fire safety and the list goes on.

There seems to be a creeping idea that inclusivity not only means treating everybody fairly, but also making everybody do the same tedious training whether or not it has any relevance to their job.

However, I suspect resisting this is futile. Instead I suggest we all put up posters in our surgeries announcing how many hours of mandatory training the practice has to undergo in the past year and what this equates to in lost patient appointments, and suggesting that if patients feel this time would be better spent dealing with their complaints they write to Jeremy Hunt to tell him so.

Sometimes there is nothing like a bit of passive aggression.

Dr David Turner is a GP in north west London