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‘Got half an hour spare?’

I don’t know if any of you actually open your NHS mail inbox. It’s a rare event for me, my default position being that if I want to hear from anybody they’ll already have my personal email address, or at least they will know somebody who does.

But if you ever get around to it, you’ll find it’s full of fascinating stuff about meetings you really wouldn’t want to go to, alerts about drugs you’ve never prescribed and warnings that certain batches of colostomy bags and catheters may not be as resilient in everyday use as their users might have hoped for.

You’ll find regular bleats from the A&E department at St. Elsewhere’s, who are up to their armpits in sick people, begging GPs to send any they come across to Elsewhere District Hospital. These are mirrored by distress calls from Elsewhere District Hospital stating the exact opposite point of view, implying that the work shy Herberts at St Elsewhere’s should stop whining and get their communal finger out.

And nestling among all this junk were a couple of messages labelled ‘360-degree feedback’ and ‘FINAL REMINDER: 360 degree feedback’. Ooh, shouty capitals. SCARY!

It appears that I am a marked man. The Director of NHS Operations and Delivery, no less, has singled me out as a vitally important source of local feedback. If only she’d spelled my name right! 

The 360-degree feedback survey, I was assured, would take about 15 minutes to complete. Which we all know means it would take half an hour, and that’s about £100-worth of my time. But I clicked on the hyperlink anyway.

The page read: ‘As a member practice of the CCG, it is important that your CCG hears your views, both as part of the annual assurance process and to help support its ongoing organisational development.’

But not quite important enough to justify paying for them, I thought to myself.

It went on, ‘Please note, throughout the survey, where the question refers to “you”, this should be read as the member practice that you represent. To help facilitate this, we have provided a PDF version of the questionnaire so that you can gather the views of others in your organisation before you respond…’

And they did indeed provide a .pdf version, which contained 49 questions, separated into seven different sub-sections across 21 pages.

So, from ‘Please fill in this 15-minute survey’, we’ve moved along to, ‘Please distribute this behemoth of a questionnaire to any and all interested parties in your practice, collect and collate their responses and be good enough to reflect their communal views by answering the 49 questions online by Wednesday of next week.’

If you think there’s even a chance that you’ll be entered in to a draw to win a free iPad, you can think again.

And here’s the good bit. The only reason I’m aware of the existence of the survey at all is that I found this needy email in my private mailbox from a lovely GP who works nearby.

I quote verbatim: ‘I believe you may have been sent a 360-degree stakeholder survey by the CCG.

‘They have had a very poor response rate (around 2%) so have asked me to try and encourage doctors to reply.’

I have rarely, if ever, been so proud of my peer group. A whopping 98% of you appear to have told the NHS Directorate of Operations and Delivery where they can stick their survey.

Of course, this means that they’ll railroad through whatever they were planning to railroad through from the outset, and it means that they’ll claim that front line GPs were included in the inclusive inclusion process and had every opportunity to express their views, but, hey, 98%.

Ninety-eight sodding percent. Go on, pat yourselves on the back.

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