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We’re paying for punters to slate our practices?

Four pence. That’s nothing to get het up about, is it? True, look after the pennies and all that. Nonetheless. Surely 4p can’t hurt anyone too much?

Until, that is, you realise what this particular four pence refers to: it’s the cost of each individual Friends and Family Test Feedback (FFT) form. I discovered this during a recent practice meeting when, to avoid the contractual rap on the knuckles currently being suffered by some practices for scoring ‘Nul points’ on FFT returns, we decided we needed to order more forms.

‘You realise they cost us four pence each?’ pointed out my practice manager. And that was when all hell broke loose. We were aghast, dismayed, incredulous and outraged. ‘What?’ we cried, in unison, in a tone mixing dismay, incredulity, outrage and, er, aghastness. ‘We’re supposed to fund this nonsense ourselves?’

Apparently so. In the same way that we have to pay for the pleasure of having the CQC pee on our parade, we’re expected to stump up the cash to offer aggrieved punters an open invitation to state that we are ‘The worst practice in the UK’, as if NHS Choices doesn’t already give them adequate opportunity to hurl abuse us at us.

A shouty debate followed, culminating in a decision to take Direct Action. No way are we coughing up any 4ps. So, the plan is too loot other local practices of their waiting room FFT supply, except for one form, on which we’ll write, under ‘any other comments’, ‘Why does this practice never have enough Friends and Family Test forms?’

This savagery is what the Government has reduced us to. Each form may only cost us four pence. But it has cost the profession much, much more.

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