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We’re laughing at you

There’s only one thing to do when confronted by random officiousness, in my view – and that’s laugh long and hard in its face. The more random and the more officious it is, the longer and harder we should laugh. And that’s why various well-meaning agencies, when they suffer these outpourings of overbearing bureaucracy, find we GPs simply don’t take them as seriously as they take themselves.

Consider, for example, a communication from our local infection control team. Apparently, a patient of ours has recently suffered a C. difficile infection. According to the email, the CCG takes a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to such infections, though it doesn’t clarify whether this means that it’s the GP, the patient or the micro-organism that should be shot. Furthermore, it requires us to complete a ‘root cause’ analysis (no idea, but helpful pro-forma supplied), to provide learning points and action taken, and to do all of this within a week.

On the one hand, this could be viewed just as a slightly overzealous approach to a significant problem. And on the other, it could be seen as pompous, heavy-handed, absurdly-worded, target-driven, labour-intensive, arbitrarily-deadlined, molar-grinding drivel. We favour the latter view on account of it being pompous, heavy-handed, absurdly-worded etc etc. That and the fact that we receive increasing numbers of communications of this sort – about drug errors, patient complaints, unscheduled admissions and so on – adopting a similarly hysterical and scolding tone.

If we were sensitive souls, we’d be ground down into despairing, self-flagellating submission by this sanctimonious claptrap. But we’re not. We just find it hilarious.

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