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Saturday surgery

Regular readers will know that I’m at the opposite polarity to those colleagues of ours who froth at the mouth and steam at the ears about DNAs. But there’s a limit to the amount of unscheduled coffee hits even I can take. And that threshold was reached during my last Saturday morning ‘extended hours’ stint when, in a hypercaffeinated state and with thumbs twiddling, I resorted to doing a quick and dirty audit of these weekend-ruining surgeries.

And guess what? It confirmed what I already knew. The DNA rate on a Saturday is over twice that during the week. There are all sorts of interesting reasons why this might be. Maybe patients book these appointments well ahead, so they have an increased chance of forgetting/getting better in the interim. Maybe their busy weekend schedule of sleeping, shopping and Strictly distracts them from the need to remain ill. Maybe they wake on a Saturday morning and decide that, as life/the weekend is too short, they simply can’t be arsed to turn up.

Whereas I have to. Which is why I’m wasting part of what was once my down-time in an empty consulting room doing a sodding audit. So maybe it’s worth bearing this soul-destroying DNA rate in mind before we run hell-for-leather into pioneering 8 to 8 and weekend opening. Because the more you provide, the less it’s valued. And best factor in a few coffee breaks.


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