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Strangled by bureaucracy

Maybe I’d been watching too many re-runs of Sherlock. But as I sat in my consulting room on a lonely, pin-drop quiet Sunday afternoon, catching up on paperwork, I knew that I was about to be murdered. And I knew this because I heard noises down the corridor where, on a Sunday afternoon, no noises should be heard.

I froze in horror. One of the local junkies must have broken in, I guessed, and was sniffing out prescription pads and opioids. Not the first time it had happened, but they normally had the courtesy  to only try their luck when the building was empty. I grabbed the one thing handy that had the potential to act as some sort of weapon: an aerosol can of air-freshener. If I was going to die, at least, according to the blurb, I’d die smelling of fresh linen.

I crept down the corridor. The noises were coming from my senior partner’s room. I was going to catch the bugger red-handed. Finger poised on the ‘spray’ button, I kicked the door open.

 ‘What the f**k are you doing here?’ said my senior partner and I to each other.

 ‘I thought I’d spend Sunday CQRS-ing,’ I explained, sheepishly. ‘And you?’

 ‘I’m CQC-ing,’ he said. ‘Got to find the time for it somewhere. Is that air-freshener loaded?’

Before I could reply, there was a further commotion. In burst our junior partner. ‘Bloody hell,’ he exclaimed. ‘There I was, quietly QOF-ing. You two gave me the fright of my life.’

A few more footsteps down the corridor later and we were confronted by our two other partners: Dr X, AQP-ing and Dr Y, DES-ing.

So there we were, at 2pm on a Sunday afternoon: five partners, five acronyms and one can of air freshener.  And it turned out that each of us had been coming in at odd times every weekend for ages in a desperate attempt to get on top of our workloads, each too embarrassed to admit to the others that we had been reduced to this.

I wasn’t murdered, true. But the practice is being strangled by bureaucracy.  

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