Scary Stuff You Should Know No 2

Dr Vernon Coleman

1. I think I can understand why doctors may appear to be a little cold these days and why they keep their emotional distance from their patients. A woman has complained to the General Medical Council about her GP. She told him that she had split up with her boyfriend. The doctor allegedly said: ‘I think he’s an idiot because you look lovely.’ The GMC was allegedly thinking of striking the GP off the medical register for sexual misconduct. But GPs can inject patients by the thousand with an experimental jab and the GMC doesn’t raise an eyebrow.

2. Although Britain has three of the world’s top ten universities, the NHS now recruits more than half its doctors from abroad. Inevitably, many of the imported doctors know little of our language and less of our mores and customs. Some years ago I acquired a copy of a curious little language book which the Government published for foreign doctors. The book contained advice on the esoteric language used by the British when discussing personal items of anatomy. So, for example, immigrating doctors were told that British males refer to their genitalia as their ‘twig and berries’. I suspect that use of phrase may startle more than a few of the indigenous population. (This is no more of a criticism than to say that British trained doctors who move abroad will probably know little of the local mores and customs and possibly not much of the local language.)

3. Would the death rate from cancer and other serious diseases be lower if we spent a little more money training doctors and a little less training, say, bureaucrats?

4. My life’s medical records have disappeared completely. They were there when doctors last kept medical records on bits of paper. But they were deleted when records were transferred to computer. I wonder how often this happens. Or was it personal?

5. A thick paperback book is an essential companion when attending any NHS appointment. Waiting times get ever longer.

6. A friend went to see his GP. He told her that he was deeply depressed, that he could not sleep, that he had regular palpitations, that he suffered from painful cramps, that he was constantly tired, that he woke every morning at 6.30 am and that his body, not surprisingly, feels a wreck, ready for the junk yard. ‘I’ll order some blood tests,’ the doctor said. ‘It’s not urgent, is it?’ ‘It is to me,’ my friend said, softly.’ We’ll get it done in the next week or ten days then,’ said the doctor. In the bad old days when I was in practice, a GP would take his own bloods. It would take two or three minutes at most. These days, however, the patient must make another appointment, go away, come back and then have the blood taken. And so instead of taking a couple of minutes, the procedure takes hours of the patient’s time. And, of course, there is inevitably a notable delay between the doctor commissioning the blood test and the result being obtained. Medicine has changed so much in the last few decades. I wonder if GPs actually touch their patients any more.

7. Much of the vital information in medicine was acquired by GPs doing research in their own practices. Today, doctors just seem to follow the rules but never think for themselves. No questioning.

8. I know I shouldn’t go on about the past but when I was a GP, we used to see patients (and investigate) until we had made a diagnosis of some kind. These days doctors don’t seem to say ‘Come back and see me in a week’. Doctors see fewer patients, do less work, earn far more money and seem to care far, far less. Most crucially, they have been trained not to think.

9. Many of the most seriously ill patients attending British hospitals now wait more than four hours before a bed can be found for them. This is dangerous, inhumane and undignified. NHS bosses will make the usual mealy mouthed excuses but they will do nothing because vast amounts of the NHS’s money is committed to paying huge salaries to unnecessary administrators. As the number of beds has fallen so the number of administrators has gone up. The number of beds in British hospitals has been falling steadily for years. Our population has risen dramatically (as immigrants have poured in from the EU) but the number of beds has fallen.

10. Big bruises after venepucture are usually a sign of incompetence, just as bedsores are usually a sign of bad nursing in hospitals. I suspect that the venepuncturist went straight through the vein before taking the blood. If the needle enters the vein at too steep an angle it will go right through the vein, causing bleeding and a bruise. When she doesn’t obtain any blood, the venepuncturist pulls the needle back a little and when the business end of the needle slides back into the vein it will find blood. When I practised medicine doctors took their own bloods and I would have been embarrassed and ashamed if I had ever left a patient with a bruise as large as the ones patients routinely develop these days. A is always left with a huge bruise when she has blood taken at the GPs’ surgery. Bruises, infections and bed sores used to be considered a result of bad nursing – they still should be.

11. I rang our GP’s surgery and the automatic machine at the surgery told me first of all that if I had an emergency I should hang up and dial 999. I couldn’t believe it. It appears that GPs no longer deal with emergencies even during their massively reduced working week. I was so saddened by this that I actually cried. I really miss the GP service that operated when I was a GP. We worked 24 hours a day for 365 days a year. Now that I am on the receiving end of the general practice service I find that there isn’t one. In the ‘bad’ old days GPs worked alone and were virtually outside the bureaucracy of the health service and, indeed, the medical profession. Most of them were men and most of them were eccentric to say the least. They were sometimes arrogant but they were nearly always caring, caring passionately about their patients. There was a paternalism which was crushed long ago. Doctors in general practice, family doctors, were pastoral and took total responsibility for their patients. They were loners, outside the profession, the system and the bureaucracy but they were on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and the buck stopped with them. Which sort of doctor do you prefer?

12. Since Tony Blair’s Labour Government got rid of the tradition whereby patients were registered with a particular GP, and made GP partnerships rather than individuals responsible for each patient’s primary care, there has been no personal link between patients and doctors. I strongly suspect that this is another piece of legislation designed to suit the Agenda 21 fanatics. (Those calling for a Great Reset hate individualism and small organisations.)

Copyright Vernon Coleman October 2021

Vernon Coleman’s international bestselling book `How to stop your doctor killing you’ is available as a paperback and an eBook.