I rarely feel like hugging patients, in the sense that, in 25 years, I’ve never felt like hugging a patient. Until today.
It hadn’t started well, though. ‘Sorry to keep you waiting,’ I’d said, as I’m always running about half an hour late and a pre-emptive strike is usually enough to deflate the indignant.
‘Hmmm,’ she said, ominously. ‘And I’ve waited two weeks for this appointment, too.’
Oh yeah, I forgot, I had the audacity to take some holiday, do you want me to apologise about that as well, I was on the brink of saying. Fortunately, I didn’t, because, out of a clear blue sky, she followed up with this: ‘But you’re worth waiting for’.
And that’s why I gave her a hug. Only once I’d got up from the floor, though, otherwise it would have looked unseemly/desperate.
Dr Copperfield: worth waiting for. Now that is simply too good to waste, so I’m not going to. It reminded me of the only previous time I’d come close to a similar compliment, quite a few years ago. A frequently attending, notoriously grumbly and serially dissatisfied woman had been so comprehensively berating everything about our services that I was forced to ask, if everything was so terrible, why had she bothered to come to see me. And her reply was, ‘I hear you’re a bit less sh** than all the rest’.
So, obviously, I had that embossed on my headed notepaper: ‘Dr Copperfield, a bit less sh** than all the rest’. It has served me very well over the years. But now I have, ‘Worth waiting for’, and it’s even better, because it encapsulates in just three words some very important aspects of my service. That I view my care as high quality. That you can’t access me at the drop of a hat, though, so don’t expect to. That you may have to thumb through quite a few dog-eared copies of ‘Hello’ in the waiting room until I deign to see you. But that you’ve still got reason to be grateful.
True, it makes me a bit of a hostage to fortune, but I can live with that. So that’s my new slogan. And I’m putting it in inverted commas, too, to prove that it’s not just self aggrandisement, it’s a quote and therefore must be true. Dr Tony Copperfield: ‘Worth waiting for’.
Now, is there anyone out there who’d like to buy some unused headed notepaper? You just need to be a bit less sh** than all the rest.
Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex. You follow him on Twitter @DocCopperfield.