Tumbleweed sighted in the Surgery

Tumbleweed sighted in the Surgery

‘Confirmation bias’ is the tendency to search for, interpret and favour evidence to support one’s pre-existing beliefs.

It has been brought to the attention of your PPG that when it might take three weeks to book a routine GP appointment, there are times when our waiting room looks somewhat empty of patients. Why might that be?

Long gone are the days when your GP did nothing but see patients. Health care has become more complex and more demanding. There is evidence that doctors consulting patients for more than seven half-day sessions each week are prone to burn out. I frequently work an eleven hour day, so can clock up full-time hours before Thursday lunchtime! Worn down doctors don’t provide safe or compassionate care.

We have most hands on deck at the busiest times of the week – Monday and Friday. On other days some of us will be fulfilling the other roles the NHS expects of us – commissioning local healthcare, teaching and training, managing this surgery and other care providers, pursuing specialist clinical roles or representing the needs of GPs and their patients on a county stage.

We are only a medium-sized GP practice and team. A trickle of patients in the waiting room does not reflect a dearth of activity. Whilst one GP may be seeing booked appointments, our duty doctor will be doing telephone consultations and triage. The Advanced Nurse Practitioner or a GP will be undertaking a ‘ward round’ of care home patients. Although it is good to stagger appointments across the working day, it is also necessary to create protected time for team meetings to discuss, plan and improve patient care. Every hour spent consulting patients face to face generates another half hour of administration; reading letters, dictating letters, completing forms and reports, requesting tests, interpreting tests, making phone calls to patients and colleagues, chasing up stuff that other parts of the health service should have done but hasn’t …

Please remember that a quiet waiting room in no way reflects the volume of care and the intensity of work in General Practice.