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New diabetes screening has pushed me to my limit

Yes, look, I know I’m a doctor so it’s in my job description to heal the sick etcetera etcetera. And I also realise that getting fed up because there’s a lot of illness about and I wish they’d all go away sometimes could be seen as a bit doctor-centric.

But look, you’re a GP*. You understand. We have our limits. And I’ve reached mine. Specifically, with diabetics. It’s not their fault, I feel sorry for them, what with all the potential complications they have to look forward to, the drugs they have to swallow, the appointments they have to attend, the fact that I’m contractually obliged to depress them by repeatedly asking them  whether they’re depressed and so on.

The thing is, though, there’s too many of them. Every surgery is swamped by patients whose diabetic status is trumpeted by my QoF prompt going mental. A few I can handle. But a standard general practice surgery is now like doing a diabetic clinic with the odd sore throat thrown in.

And it’s going to get worse. Because the latest suggestion for diabetes screening is highlighted here. If you can’t be arsed to read it, I’ll summarise. Essentially, we have to keep badgering those who are at high risk of diabetes with HbA1cs until they turn diabetic, and those who refuse to do so we have to treat as though they are anyway.

How have we reached this state of affairs where the prevalence of diabetes, pre-diabetes, sub pre-diabetes or incipient sub pre-diabetes is more than 97%? Simple. By having an ‘Expert group’ with a prevalence of ‘GP’ in their job title of less than 3%.

* Probably

Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex