Tuesday, 3 November 2009

A day in the life of a salaried GP

I am no longer a salaried GP, but I thought that you'd enjoy this article I wrote for Pulse magazine - it shows a day in my (old) life.

I could tell you about a normal day in the life of a salaried GP but it would be really rather dull.

This Monday, however, was a rather unusual day - the first day in our new building. The partners had been sweating bullets over it for the past few months and the big day was finally here. We had a sneak peek on the day before to find our way around and marvel at the nice new desks, smooth floors and curious locking mechanism on the doors. Keys are a thing of the past, instead we have a new little key fob that you wave at the handle and the door unlocks. The fob looks alarmingly rather like a shiny black suppository.

0800 I arrive half an hour early to set-up, and find out whats going on. I have the pleasure of doing our rapid access clinic on the first day. It’s a clinic with 5min slots designed to see all the minor complaints – like sore throats, colds, earache – so the complex stuff goes to the normal clinics. There is not much room for pausing or having chat, it’s a fast clinic and if one patient takes too long it very quickly over-runs. I predict problems, it’s in a new building that’s a bit maze-like and a doctor that doesn’t know where anything is.

0805 The trays we use to store our sick notes, forms and such like have quadrupled in size. I don’t have one or a name plate. Sadly I still have to work.

0810 First things first, time to check the most important room in the building. The tea point. So far so good.

0820 Receptionist informs me toilets are not flushing as the water hasn’t been switched on yet. Wish they had told me before I had a sit down session. Feel sorry for whomever uses it after me…

0830 Clinic starts! Patient is told they are my first patient in the new building, the patient doesn’t seem impressed and just wants their sick note.

0845 Hear the water has been switched back on. Run back to loo and flush the evidence.

0915 Need to weigh a patient. New scales not calibrated yet. Only one set of scales working, on other side of building. In a nurses room.

0950 First patient to complain about the car park being too small.

1000 Patient who doesn’t speak English tries to do consult with relative translating via mobile phone. No mobile reception in the new building. Oops.

1026 Notice that we have soft-close bins. Very nice. Patient feedback about new building generally positive

1030 Emergency case turns up needing my help and eventually an ambulance. Clinic running behind now.

1100 Total of 1 hour of urgent extras to see. Most are not urgent.

1215 1 home visit hasn’t been taken. Down to me to argue with doctors to see who is going to do it. Phone patient but they have gone out, informed they will be back from the shops soon.
Politely inform family that we will not be doing a home visit for them. Total of 24 visits today, split between 13 Doctors. Notice that a Partner did an early morning pre-booked clinic between 7-8am. Not a single patient turned up.

1250 On the phone and it starts ringing – it has more than 1 line! No idea how to swap calls so ignore ringing.

1256 Rapid access clinic finally finished. Just a mountain of paperwork to do now and script signing. Room is freezing so wear my coat.

1325 Paperwork finished. Should have been in a meeting that started at 1300. Turn up late, not missed much. Jealously spy the fancy new coffee machine in the corner of the meeting room. Can’t use it though as one of the Partners said it costs a small fortune to use. (Last week one of the Partners did get a coffee out of the machine. Shortly afterwards a sign appeared on it saying Out of Order – awaiting connection to water supply. To discourage anyone else from using it? Who knows.)

1400 Meeting finished. Got 30mins before afternoon clinic starts. Decide to walk to shops for sandwich as not sure I’ll get a parking space on my return.

1430 Afternoon clinic starts

1600 Angry email from reception manager moaning about the new tea point being dirty and no-one is washing their own mugs

1630 Feeling generous and see 2 patients who are both 20mins late each. Would normally ask them to rebook but as it’s the first day in the new building I let them off.

1700 Informed that last patient has gone to the old building. See them 10mins later

1715 Done. Leave after washing up my mug. Race across town to pick up daughter before nursery shuts at 6pm.

All in all the day went well, apart from the workload. Might try and get a cup of coffee out of the machine upstairs next week when no-one is looking.

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