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Some things are more important than even the QOF

I often talk about the importance of information technology in our line of work and how it allows us to work both effectively and efficiently.  In fact without it we would be completely unable to fulfil our role both to our patients and our colleagues in secondary care.

Information is the foundation upon which we build a picture of what has happened to the patient in the past, what may be ailing them now and what we need to do regarding possible investigations and management of their current illness and even to prevent future ones.

However, I am becoming increasingly aware I’m spending more time looking at the computer screen rather than the patient and I think this is a shame.  However, with so much of our income based upon QOF how else are we to maintain an accurate patient record that reflects the hard work that has gone into exemplary patient care and earn enough to keep our practices viable?

What is important though is not to lose a grip on the art of medicine, an aspect of being a GP that I experienced only yesterday.

I sat with an elderly lady who was in the last hours of her life.

She was in her bed, comfortable and pain free.  She was in one of the nicest nursing homes I have ever visited, surrounded by her loving family and was cared for by kind and compassionate nurses.

There was no technology, no drips or monitors, just love and human compassion and I felt at my most humblest as I sat and held her hand while she was dying.  I’m not even sure if she knew I was there but it was important to me that I was.

I remembered (not for the first time) this was one of the reasons why I became a GP.  Not for the electronic patient record or ticking boxes to earn QOF points or the ability to provide Choose and Book referrals with just a few mouse clicks.  It was to be a doctor, sometimes at the beginning of life, mostly during it and often near the end.

There were no QOF points earned yesterday.  But it was one of the most rewarding days I have had for a long time.

Dr Hadrian Moss is a GP in Kettering, Northamptonshire. You can tweet him at @DrHMoss.