You see ‘a GP;’ a role who is there at your service to sort out your healthcare needs.
WHO is on the other side? Do you know? Can you see?
What do you see? You had to wait to be seen. This annoyed you. What on earth is the GP doing? You grumble as you go in to be seen.
What is the other side? Patients keep arriving every 10 minutes over and over all day long. Your GP is trying to keep to time but people keep coming in with lists, complex issues and mental health problems which can’t be done in the allocated time. The GP knows you don’t like having to wait. She feels guilty about this and stressed by it. She apologises even though it’s not her fault. The GP is adding ‘catch-up’ slots in to try and prevent patients having to sit in the waiting room so long which makes her whole day even longer. For you, the patients. Putting you first. But you don’t know all this. You can’t see.
What do you see? You reel off a list or mention a big issue at the last moment or ‘Can you just….?’ You have paid your taxes. You are entitled to make the most of this service, especially as it’s taken you 4 weeks to get an appointment. It hasn’t occurred to you how much time this needs and that you are now making other people wait longer.
What is the other side? Your GP hates that you’ve had to wait so long for the appointment but can’t fix a system that can’t cope with the increasing demands on it. Your GP is worrying about how the other patients will be getting more disgruntled as YOU make them wait longer. Your GP wants to address all these problems thoroughly but there is too much time pressure so feels like a poor job is done even though you’ve taken twice your allocated time. Your GP tries to make sure your needs are put first and makes extra work for herself to do this….makes sure you don’t have to battle for an appointment next time. But you don’t know all this. You can’t see.
What do you see? The GP only has a few hours of appointments twice a day. There is loads of time off in between. Most of them only work part-time anyway. What do they do all day? Why hasn’t my prescription or letter been done yet?
What is the other side? Your GP keeps going all day long seeing patients, phoning patients, doing home visits then straight back in to more patients and phonecalls. Usually without stopping to draw breath – the regimented timing of the system doesn’t allow it. There are no breaks. Lunch is a bonus but usually eaten at the same time as working. Finally the last patient contact is done. She draws breath. Now to sort and action the blood results, incoming letters, referrals to do, prescriptions to review. She has worked non-stop for 12 hours. So far. And still not finished. Finally, she stops, exhausted but still not finished. The rest will have to wait. Her young children have been put to bed now and she has missed it. Again. She is not part of their lives at this time of day. There’s all the housework to do when she eventually gets home – the family need looking after. She’ll be back at work again tomorrow to do it all again – but really can’t face it. The days are hard, stressful, long and emotionally intensive. ‘Part-time’ GP is as many hours as other full time jobs and extremely draining. On the days ‘off,’ she looks after her young children and plods through the work that needs to be done for the family, but can’t keep on top of it. This is not a rest. She has nothing left to give on these days and patience is thin; the job has sapped it all away. She feels like a rubbish parent. But you don’t know all this. You can’t see.
What do you see? Your GP is there to talk to. Somebody to help you feel better. You feel in a dark place. Life is rubbish. It’s their job to deal with things like this.
What is the other side? Your GP ‘takes on’ your problems and emotions. She empathises with the pain your life is causing you and feels your tears. Sometimes, she wants to join in. She gives you the time you need, even though she knows subsequent patients will complain about waiting. This happens time after time every day. She is human too. She is giving of herself. But it chips away bit by bit. She starts to dread seeing patients like you as it is taking it’s toll. But she keeps going, giving her all at work, trying her best for her patients. But you don’t know all this. You can’t see.
What do you see? You had to wait ages in the waiting room today. The doctor seems to be all over the place. Doesn’t appear to be taking things in properly. Nearly forgot to give you the prescription.
What is the other side? Your GP is human too. Your GP is not infallible. Your GP was trying to get through the day whilst feeling unwell herself. She has a chronic disease too and a virus at the moment on top. But she is desperately trying to put your needs first. But you don’t know all this. You can’t see.
What do you see? The wait for the appointments, the wait in the waiting room, the referral or procedure you can’t have because the NHS can’t afford to fund it, the referral that’s been done but there’s no appointments available because the system is pushed to the limit, the wait for prescriptions and letters to be done, increasing prescription fees. ‘It’s not good enough.’ Whether it be you’ve paid your taxes or you’re eligible for free prescriptions, you want to milk everything you can out of the system; because you think you are entitled to.
What is the other side? Your GP knows you are frustrated and completely understands. Your GP and her family have medical problems too. Your GP waits for GP services. Your GP waits for hospital services. The system is pushed to the limit and failing – she knows it’s not good enough. Your GP can’t fix it. Your GP is also frustrated because she can’t meet your needs in the way she wants to. You’re making it worse trying to get every little bit you can out of it. It is a vicious cycle. You could help by remembering the big picture and taking as little as you really need to allow the system to recover a bit. Use other resources. Your GP makes the effort to try to explain this for the greater good before the NHS fails altogether. But you don’t want to listen and understand. Your GP chose this job through the innate desire to help people and used to feel like she could do this and enjoy it. Now, not only can she not provide the service she wants, but the patient frustrations and overall negativity has made the whole thing a trial. She looks for a way out as several more decades of this fills her with horror. There is no way out. This is the only job she knows and she has to provide for her family. She has to keep going. But you don’t know all this. You can’t see.
What do you see? Your GP is off sick. Probably a chest infection or something. She’ll be back soon.
What is the other side? No it’s not that. Your GP has nothing left to give. She is broken. But you don’t know this. You can’t see.