You’ll probably remember the old adage from your medical school days: ‘In medicine there’s no such word as “never”’.
So when Professor Clare Gerada piped up, ‘Never blame the patient!’, during a debate at last week’s Pulse Live event in London she couldn’t have been surprised by the audience’s reaction.
We’re never supposed to blame patients for turning up inappropriately, because they’ve either been sent to the surgery by NHS 111 or pressured into attending as an emergency with their patch of scalp ringworm by family and friends.
We’re never supposed to blame patients for being rude and obnoxious to our reception staff, we’re never supposed to blame them for demanding unnecessary antibiotics or investigations.
We’re never supposed to blame patients for getting shirty when we advise them that three months off work after a routine bunionectomy is quite enough, thank you and it’s time to get back onto the shop floor.
We’re never supposed to blame patients for writing complaint letters IN CAPITAL LETTERS when we assert that we can say, with some authority, that there is no such thing as total body candidiasis, that homeopathy is a crock of shit and that failed hairdressers, beauticians and nail technicians who decide to pass themselves off as “nutritionists” are not qualified to give medical advice.
I’m told that around this time of year people give stuff up. Chocolate, alcohol, self abuse – in the main, things that they really enjoy.
Not being a religious type I’ve never joined in with Lent before, but in the interest of team spirit, this year I’m up for it.
However, I’ve chosen to break with tradition and forego something I don’t like. I gave up bullshit for Lent. I invite you to do the same.
Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex. You can follow him on Twitter @DocCopperfield.