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When the CQC stole Christmas. And our senior partner.

We’re due our visit by the inspection team in just a few days. So, as you can imagine, we’re blitzing the practice to dispose of anything potentially incriminating – maggots, corpses, dart-pocked pictures of Steve Field etc.

It’s been a steep learning curve. For example, who’d have thought that hypodermic needles have a ‘use by’ date? What’s the worst that could happen, I ask my practice manager as she frantically tips them into a sharps bin, even if the ‘sell by’ is 1/10/74?

Anyway, the process has absolutely confirmed that the CQC sucks the joy out of a place and replaces it with despair. Until a few days ago, our admin offices were grottos of yuletide cheer, bedecked with twinkling Christmas lights. Now the lights have gone and all is doom and gloom. PAT testing, apparently. I literally have no idea what that is, but it’s made our fairy lights illegal.

Our senior partner doesn’t seem to care. She’s been so CQC-obsessed for the last few weeks that we fear she’s become one of them – like the man who feigned madness to escape Colditz, only to be found he was stuck with it. We want her back, but she just shoos us away and carries on sharpening her clipboard.

At least, as I point out to the reception staff, we still have our massive ‘Merry Christmas’ banner in the waiting room. But they, too, have been infected by CQC-fever and stand there looking at it, uncertainly. ‘What about diversity?’ they ask. ‘Will it offend non-Christmas celebrating ethnic minorities, thereby making us appear less responsive and caring to certain population groups? Or would removing the banner for fear of causing offence imply we hold a set of assumptions about certain ethnic groups which is, in itself, might be deemed offensive?’ Ok, they don’t actually say this, but I know that’s what they’re thinking.

To lighten the mood, I decide I’m going to do something subversive, along the lines of the poster we inadvertently pinned up earlier in the year which told patients to ‘F- off’ if they wanted antibiotics . I’m thinking of a ‘Merry f***ing Christmas CQC’ with the key word in flashing neon. Once I’ve had it tested for PATS, of course.

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