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The terror of paperwork



The most annoying thing for me, as a blogger, is that any of the really good lines I might dream up about the ‘GPs told to specify counter-terrorism lead when applying for enhanced services contracts’ story have already been taken, such has been the massive response from readers. A special mention, though, must go to, ‘Well, kiss my Glock’.

So I really feel I have nothing to add, yet I must. Because, even though we seem, for some time, to have entered a parallel universe where no bureaucratic hoop or political initiative is too batshittingly bonkers to impose on a dazed, confused and thoroughly downtrodden GP workforce, this one literally made me fall off my chair.

The trouble is, of course, that if you actually have to begin to explain to people why this is so psychotically thought-disordered, then, by definition, they won’t understand. So as language won’t work, let me try a different, numerical, tack. Add together the particulars, the service conditions and general conditions of the NHS standard contract for enhanced services and you find you’re confronted with 210 pages.

Let’s suppose that each one of those pages has just one insane initiative like the current, headline-hitting, terrorism-busting ‘Prevent’ strategy, and I think we’d all agree that’s quite likely. As the ‘Prevent’ strategy, with which we’re supposed to be familiar, itself has 116 pages then, assuming the other initiatives are of much the same length, then we have 210×116 = 24,360 pages to get through just to sort out enhanced services.

That, to me, is in itself an act of terrorism. And as counter-terrorism lead for my practice, I need to bring it to someone’s attention. Not sure who. No doubt it’s in one of those pages somewhere.

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