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I’m sorry you felt the need to compliment

It’s been a while. So I guess it had to happen. Deep sigh/eye roll: yesterday, I received a formal compliment. This is how it went:

‘Dear Dr Copperfield,

I’m writing to thank you for your professional and caring approach when I saw you the other day. I was given an appointment promptly and you were polite, well-informed and very helpful. I am so grateful that you listened carefully to my symptoms and provided the reassurance and treatment I needed.

With very many thanks,

Yours etc’

Ho hum. Obviously, this triggers a response through our in-house compliments procedure, which means more paperwork for me. It’ll be along these lines:

I will be practising more offensively in future – they reap what they sow

‘Dear patient,

Thank you for your letter and I’m sorry that you felt the need to compliment. I have reviewed your case and can assure you that we will discuss this in our significant event meeting to see, exactly, what went wrong and what we can learn from this unfortunate incident. You say that I was polite, well-informed and helpful, but this was certainly not my intention and I can only apologise if I came across in this way. As for the ease of getting an appointment, we are reviewing our system and hope to be able to reintroduce our standard three-week wait very soon.

Once again, I apologise that we fell below the standard we set for ourselves in our mission statement (‘We don’t care in the community’).

That said, I must comment on the gift of the bottle of Chablis that accompanied your compliment. This sort of reaction is disproportionate and unacceptable, regardless of extenuating circumstances. We note that this is not the first time you have reacted in this way (one of my colleagues recalls receiving a pot-plant from you). We have a zero-tolerance policy for this type of behaviour and, while this doesn’t quite reach the threshold to put you on the Docile Patient Scheme (where you would be compelled to consult, in future, with a New Age Practitioner in a field of lambs and daisies), we have no option but to remove you from our list.


Dr C

PS: Apologies for the prompt response, but our practice manager has been at work.’

You try not to let these things get to you, but, of course, they do. I know that, as a result, I will be practising more offensively in future. They reap what they sow.

Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex. Read more of Copperfield’s blogs at or follow him on Twitter @doccopperfield