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FFS: how I love general practice

It’s been a long and frustrating week at my practice. Patient demand is as high as usual and on top of that we’re into holiday season so the workforce is somewhat depleted for the rest of August.

That means more on-calls and a never-ending deluge of emails and tasks to sort through. It’s amazing how quickly they build up. I only have to go for a wee and suddenly 12 tasks have been sent while I’m away (and no I don’t have prostatism). I suspect the receptionists save them up on purpose and send them en masse when I’m spotted running through reception on my way to the loo (well, maybe a bit of prostatism).

What never ceases to amaze me is how varied the messages can be from different members of staff.

One of my receptionists will write a couple of paragraphs explaining what I need to do in such a convoluted way it’s more like a Murder Mystery script. Then there’s another receptionist who has a mastery for one-liners that make your blood run cold. A classic was ‘depressed, has a knife’.  Yep, that was it.  Message back was along the lines of, ‘a bit more detail would be helpful, like who called it in, and how big a knife?’

To try and ease both my stress and that of every other GP across the country I’d like to make a request to the clinical system suppliers to install a new button on the screen that we can use as a standard reply to frustrating emails and tasks.  

So, when you’re feeling particularly frazzled about all the crap we get every day from pharmacists, hospital doctors, social workers and, yes, even patients, you can press this button and vent some steam. Let’s call it an FFS button.

Before you accuse me of being vulgar, realise that acronym could stand for ‘Fighting For Survival’, which about sums up general practice these days.

However, I’ve got an FFS button, and it means exactly what you thought it did. It does bugger all but it makes me feel better anyway. 

Dr Hadrian Moss is a GP in Kettering, Northamptonshire. You can tweet him at @DrHMoss