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The slow creep of mandatory training

I’m writing this covertly during my mandatory safeguarding training, which takes me to a level of safeguarding competence I’m not quite clear on, on account of not paying attention.

There are only so many hours in the day. But that doesn’t seem to have occurred to bodies like the CQC. Apparently, our favourite regulator’s latest Bright Idea is to decree that spirometry certification is ‘best practice’. This gives an afterburner-like boost to the drive to make spirometry accreditation mandatory for GPs and practice nurses – the implication being uncertified practices will receive the CQC’s quizzically raised eyebrow of doom.

Fabulous. Another bunch of boxes to tick, another half-day out of the practice, another certificate to download. And this is but the tip of a much bigger iceberg of mandatory training – an iceberg that has only just hoved into view and which we recently asked our practice manager to explore on account of us feeling dizzy and nauseous regarding a) the amount of mandatory training we know about already, b) the amount we’re only dimly aware of, and c) the amount we don’t know about but which has the potential to sink general practice.

If her findings are right, and I’ve every reason to fear they are, they make chilling reading. Our annual training requirements are: anaphylaxis, basic life support, fire (?), information governance awareness, infection control awareness and infection control level 2 (??). Every two years, there’s training in manual handling (???) and every three, chaperone refresher, CQC cleaning schedules (????), dementia awareness, equality and diversity, health and safety awareness (?????), record keeping and, yes, safeguarding. And that’s just the mandatory ones. The ‘recommended’ list also includes appraisee training, oxygen training and the Mental Capacity Act.

I’m going to describe this, with no apology, as a complete f**king joke, and that’s not because I missed my mandatory language sensitivity training, it’s because it f**king is.

The obvious criticism is that this is an unnecessary, time-consuming, patronising, distracting, irritating, uncoordinated, corrosive arse-ache, all of which is true. Plus the slow creep of mandatory training into clinical areas like spirometry does prompt the inevitable suspicion that soon they’ll want documented, peer-reviewed and annually refreshed evidence that we can interpret a full blood count, appreciate which end of a speculum to use, know how to wash our hands after defecation etc.

But my real concern is this obsession with mandatory training implies the regulators truly don’t understand general practice, or that they disregard our training, experience, expertise and professionalism. Or both. Don’t they know we’ve spent years and much taxpayers’ money being trained and certified for everything? It’s who GPs are and what GPs do, and to insist on rubberstamping every component is either ignorant or insulting.

Anyway, you’ll have to sod off now, its time to download my advanced safeguarding certificate.

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