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All this help is making me feel a bit ‘hypo’



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Yes, it was only a trivial and innocuous electronic Task, one which would normally warrant just the usual eye-roll/delete routine. Then again, I do see it as my vocation to call out nonsense, plus there’s a bigger point here.

So that’s why I responded when I received a message about a patient that one of the various paramilitary wings of the community nursing service had just visited. In the course of sorting out a non-diabetic patient’s leg ulcer, the nurse had for some reason checked his blood sugar. Despite any relevant symptoms, ‘Because it was only 3.1,’ she made him tea and biscuits, checked that his glucose had risen, patted herself on the back and messaged me about it.

To which I replied that this made no sense at all, that significant hypoglycaemia is only realistically an issue in diabetics on treatment, and that if she really had time to brew up and crack open the Hob Nobs, maybe she could pop over when we’re next signing repeat scripts?

And that’s when the chill of the bigger issue ran down my spine. While completely misunderstanding everything about hypoglycaemia is a fairly tiny demonstration of illogicality, it does demonstrate a profound misunderstanding of, well, medicine. I could give many other examples, almost always related to non-GPs doing a GP’s job, or part of it, and doing it not-quite-right, with the resulting dysfunction inevitably ending up in our lap.

Now we have so many non-doctors, all ‘helping us out’, the problem is spiralling out of control

Now that we have HCAs, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, paramedics, physician associates, nurse specialists etc etc, all ‘helping us out’, each with their own mistakes, misunderstandings, and misinterpretations, this problem is spiralling out of control.

Someone wise and articulate recently pointed out that the current funding arrangements for general practice are like trying to paint your house using multiple tiny sample pots. Spot on. I’d argue that maintenance of that house now suffers the same problem: the keys have been handed over to multiple agencies who come in, who mean well, but who leave it in a worse state than it was in the first place, with the result that we have to clear up the mess.

It’s enough to make us feel dizzy, sweaty and trembly. And we all know what that isn’t, don’t we?

Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex