This site is intended for health professionals only


It’s not all bad – a story to brighten your new year



OK, enough already. True, like all the rest of us ground-down, burnt-out, Prozac-mainlining GPs, I fail to hum ‘What a wonderful world’ every morning on my way to work. But the responses to, let’s face it, quite a nice picture of Chaand Nagpaul in a hat are – as with many of Pulse’s ‘state of the nation’ stories – so demoralised and so demoralising that they make me wonder whether to bother breathing in again after my next breath out.

Things aren’t quite that bad though, really, are they? I mean, OK, they probably are, but you never know, do you? We might get paid for the AUA DES soon, or maybe a patient will accept an antibiotic refusal without writing a ‘Worst GP in the worst practice EVER’ review on NHS Choices, or perhaps someone who has more than a qualification in first aid will respond to our ad for a partner (yes, really).

And there are still things to make us smile about general practice. Like what happened to me, today. In a spirit of New Year positivity, I’m going to tell you about it, simply to cheer you up.

Where could you have that kind of fun? Only general practice, right? 

So. A young lady attended complaining of headaches. I would describe her as extremely attractive, because she was, but that would make me sound like an aging perv who should immediately be reported to the GMC, so I won’t make a thing of it. But she was. Really attractive. So I did the usual, which in my case involves a history and then a completely pointless check of blood pressure and fundi, just for show. Anyway, did I mention that she was really good looking? And quite shapely? Don’t worry, though, I was being completely professional – you just need a mental image for the purposes of the story.

Anyway. There she was looking gorgeous. And there I was, maybe showing off a bit. Being all concerned and thorough and competent and perhaps just oozing a bit of animal magnetism. Now came the fundi bit. Lights off, so obviously a frisson. I wheeled my seat towards hers. Now, you know the little lever under your seat which suddenly lowers your chair? Just as I locked my ophthalmoscope onto her pupil, my foot inadvertently engaged that lever, and I suddenly plummeted, still seated, by about a foot. I had been transformed from super-smooth GP to some kind of weird garden gnome-doc. Worse still, a weird garden gnome doc who was now illuminating one of her breasts with my ophthalmoscope and was frozen, eye to nipple*.

She very readily accepted my flustered diagnosis of tension headaches, and made a hasty exit. I was left to resurrect my chair and what was left of my dignity. And then I wet myself laughing.

Look, where could you have that kind of fun? Only general practice, right? You never know quite what’s going to walk through the door and you never know quite how you might balls it up. Brilliant. All together now, ‘And I think to myself….’

*Kind of. It would have been eye-to-nipple if she had no clothes on. But she did, obviously. 

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