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Double shot

You know me, I’m not one to criticise. Especially not patients who, after all, are the very lifeblood of my day to day existence.

On the other hand, what is it with them currently coming into the consultation brandishing a double-shot latte freshly purchased from their favoured global-brand coffee emporium? It’s perfectly reasonable for me, the GP, to require regular caffeine fixes – after all some of their presentations (think anything with the words ‘tired’ or ‘dizziness’) would have me well off the Glasgow Coma Scale if I wasn’t mainlining macchiato.

But now it seems many of the punters can’t cope with a consultation without their coffee-cup comforter. You probably recognise the type: young, woolly hatted and clanging with multiple body piercings.

They think they’re sending out the message that they’re pressured, vital and urban. But they’d be well advised to consider the musings of Alain de Botton, who perceptively points out that a person’s taste or style is a manifestation of a deficiency in their personality – an insight which I suspect occurred to him while drinking decaff. What it means is that these patients are tossers.

Anyway, so riled have I become by the coffee consultation culture that I’m developing a little list of ways to wreak revenge.

1 Deliberately prolong the consultation with pointless diversions about the patient’s holiday plans and the health of their family until the point when you can be sure that their coffee has gone cold.

2 Without explanation, perform a dipstick urinalysis on the coffee and say, ‘I see you take sugar’ (or don’t, according to the result).

3 Take the coffee from the patient and say, ‘Thanks, but where’s my chocolate muffin?’

4 Say at the end of the consultation: ‘Do you want those antibiotics to go, or to eat here?’

5 Incorporate somewhere in the middle of the clinical interrogation the innocent question ‘Do you take much caffeine?’, pretend to note, for the first time and with exaggerated surprise and amusement, the cup of coffee, laugh uproariously, then stop abruptly and slightly prematurely to give the impression that you could well be slightly mad.

All of which is damn good fun. But on reflection, this is no laughing matter. After all, that cup is one spill away from frying my groin or frazzling my computer. So let’s have a policy whereby the only ‘extra shot’ these caffeine-loving patients receive is a bullet-shaped one between the eyes.

Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex. You can email him at and follow him on Twitter @DocCopperfield.