• Date: 13 May 2011

GIVEN recent headlines Diary wonders if practice managers should be sharpening up their clinical skills. One front page article this month in the medical tabloid Pulse warned: ‘NHS reforms push third of GPs to head for exit’. Are things really that bad? And more inside – ‘Half of GPs suffer stress’, ‘GP workload on the rise’, ‘GPs spending less time with patients’ and all illustrated with a depressing little histogram of survey findings that show how GPs feel they are worse off in terms of pay, working hours, autonomy, relationship with secondary care and ability to meet expectations. It might just be time to replenish the biscuit tin – maybe even with those Duchy Originals.

ONE EAR TOO MANY Staying with the topic of Pulse, Diary was impressed by a recent exposé written by its editor Richard Hoey. In an online blog Mr Hoey described how he had arranged to have his ears syringed at his local London GP after many weeks of impaired hearing. “I was rather looking forward to being dewaxed,” he writes. “The nurse though was having none of it, or rather, she was having exactly one half of it. ‘We can only do one ear’ she said, as soon as I sat down. I was rather confused by this, and it took me a while to say much in response. Apparently, the policy was that only one ear could be syringed in a 10-minute consultation. If I’d wanted two ears syringed, I should have specified this when booking my appointment.”

SNACK CUTBACK Alarming news has come our way courtesy of a random survey by workplace design firm Maris Interiors. Their researchers spoke to 185 people in February and concluded that the quality of sandwiches served at business meetings has fallen dramatically in the past five years. A shocking 80 per cent of participants thought the quality of their corporate snacks was on the wane with only four per cent noting an improvement. The statistics seem to bear out this worrying trend, with the average cost of business meeting sandwiches coming in at £5.91 per person in 2006 compared to just £3.80 in 2011. Back in the heyday of 2006, popular sandwiches boasted high-end fillings like crayfish and avocado, while in 2011’s austerity Britain we’re more likely to be served up tuna and sweetcorn. A sad sign of the times indeed.

EAT BEER Just when Diary was starting to feel guilty about all those midweek glasses of wine, it turns out our attitude to alcohol might not be so far behind the times as some people. In Russia, beer is technically classified as a foodstuff and is apparently regarded by locals as little more than a soft drink compared to their national tipple, vodka. It’s routinely sold in kiosks on almost every street corner with the 1.5 litre jumbo bottle a particular favourite. All that looks set to change, however, as legal moves are afoot to classify it as an alcoholic drink for the first time. New laws are currently making their way through parliament in a bid to cut underage drinking and alcohol-related deaths. Now, who’s for a chardonnay?

HEAD RUSH The next time you need to give yourself a boost under pressure, think twice before reaching for the coffee – unless you’re a woman. Researchers from Bristol University studied 64 men and women and found that men’s performance in set tasks was reduced if they drank caffeinated coffee, with impaired memory and slower decision-making. But the opposite was true for women who were able to complete tasks 100 seconds faster if they had been given caffeine. Source: The Journal of Applied Psychology.

SNEEZE TIMEBOMB It’s the kind of news that will have all practice managers reaching for the sanitiser spray. Scientists have discovered it takes just a single sneeze from a flu sufferer to spread germs around an entire room. And the tiny infected droplets can hang around spreading contamination all day. Breathing in these microscopic specks can infect a person within an hour. The findings from US researchers at Virginia Tech will surely make the prospect of working alongside all that coughing and spluttering all the more appealing. So long as you don’t breathe, everything should be fine.

BRUSH WITH BIEBER On now to an even more insidious viral agent – Dentistry magazine recently reported the launch of a Justin Bieber toothbrush collection. Sadly only available in the USA at present the brushes play Justin Bieber tracks such as Baby or U Smile for two minutes while brushing to encourage youngsters and adults to keep to the recommended time. Patients can also buy Justin Bieber dental floss. Diary suggests the products could be marketed in the UK under the slogan “Rot your brain, not your teeth” – or perhaps that’s a tad curmudgeonly.

GIVE THE BLACKBERRY A REST And on the topic of toothbrushes, Diary read recently on the BBC website that around the world mobile phones now outnumber toothbrushes twoto- one – a factoid disturbingly difficult to process. The point being that mobile technology has now enslaved us within a "culture of hyper-connectivity" which makes it difficult to switch off from work. Last year a Jewish nonprofit group based in New York, called Reboot, decided that what the world needed most was a National Day of Unplugging or NDU to inspire us to recapture “real interconnections between people” amidst the “relentless deluge of information” in our lives. For this year’s NDU in March Reboot handed out little sleeping bags for people to give their smartphones a rest. How cute is that?

CALL FOR DIARY ITEMS Do you have any tidbits, anecdotes or absurdities in a similar vein to the items above? Please write in or email them to PM@mddus.com  



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Practice Manager is published twice yearly and distributed to MDDUS practice managers and others with management responsibility in dental and medical surgeries. It features articles on employment law, health and safety, risk as well as profiles of practices across the UK. Browse our current and back issues below.
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