Diary PM11

  • Date: 28 November 2014

REMEMBRANCE OF COFFEE TIMES PAST Diary might not know a pièce montée from a pencil sharpener but we were none-the-less delighted to claim Great British Bake Off winner Nancy Birtwhistle as one of our own. Over 12 million viewers watched as the former practice manager from Central Surgery in Barton Upon Humber triumphed in the finale with her show-stopping Moulin Rouge-inspired centrepiece of sponge, caramel, choux pastry and petit fours. The 60-year-old grandmother-of-eight is married to GP Dr Tim Birtwhistle and no doubt coffee time at Central Surgery has been a desolate experience ever since her retirement. 

SHAPE UP, YOU LOT Maybe it’s just as well GBBO is now behind us as overweight healthcare staff are being told to slim down by NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens. He said NHS staff should “get our act together” before offering healthy living advice to patients. Suggestions for achieving the goal include encouraging healthcare professionals to take part in weight loss competitions and building more gyms. A newspaper report suggests as many as 700,000 of the 1.3 million health service staff are either overweight or obese. Mr Stevens apparently overcame his own weight problem, shedding three stones gained while working for a private health company in the US. None more abstemious than the reformed… 

GOLDEN HELLOS Mr Stevens has also been endearing himself to GPs. In a speech to the RCGP conference he suggested GPs stop complaining so much as they are putting off potential trainees. “There’s a balancing act to be struck here - a conundrum. Quite rightly you are telling it as it is in general practice at the moment… but the danger is that wake-up call sounds like a proposition to young doctors, that you want to steer clear of general practice.” Perhaps local health authorities should just be more proactive in dealing with the current recruitment crisis. Leicester City Council’s health and wellbeing board has recently been offering £20,000 golden hellos to attract new GPs to the city. Similar schemes in Essex are using funding from Health Education England to offer golden hellos worth £10,000 and one practice in Doncaster is putting up £20,000 of its own budget to fill a long-vacant partner post. Sadly Diary is more familiar with the golden goodbye. 

GOOGLE SAVED MY LIFE Who needs GPs when you have the world’s favourite internet search engine to rely on? A recent report in (where else but) the Daily Mail told the story of two women who claimed the web had saved their lives in the face of alleged indifference from their doctors. One patient’s symptoms research helped her reach a breast cancer diagnosis while the other discovered she had oral cancer after trawling the web. The report went on to quote a UK survey from earlier this year suggesting 21 per cent of patients trusted Google above their GP while 27 per cent said they relied “entirely on Google for a diagnosis”. Nothing though about YouTube for minor surgery... 

SLUMP-TIME PRESCRIBING A recent survey of over 1,000 GPs found that 90 per cent feel pressured by patients to prescribe antibiotics and 45 per cent say that they have prescribed them for viral infections even when they knew it wouldn’t do any good. Now a US study has found that afternoon is the worst time for over-prescribing antibiotics (or best for those patients convinced GPs delight in hoarding ciprofloxacin). Researchers reporting in JAMA Internal Medicine found that primary care physicians become worn down by the “cumulative demand” of making dozens of decisions throughout the day and by late afternoon are more likely to prescribe antibiotics for respiratory infections. Maybe a nap would help. 

BREAKING GOOD Do you consider yourself a decent, fair-minded manager? If so – Diary feels your pain. Researchers reporting in the Journal of Applied Psychology conclude that tough bosses might be more effective (and happier) than those who try to be equitable to workers. Professor Russell Johnson said: “The act of carefully monitoring the fairness of workplace decisions wears down supervisors mentally and emotionally… Managers who are mentally fatigued are more prone to making mistakes and it is more difficult for them to control deviant or counterproductive impulses.” He cites several studies which have found that mentally fatigued employees are more likely to steal and cheat. “Managers who are fair cannot realistically avoid some burnout.” Virtue has other rewards…we hope. 

CANDY AMNESTY Halloween presents a particular challenge to dental practices keen to tackle tooth decay among young patients by encouraging healthy eating. Diary’s solution – sitting in a darkened house pretending not to hear the doorbell – is hardly sociable. Nor is handing out sour apples and monkey nuts to potentially vandalous teens. One practice in Canada may have hit upon the perfect solution – cash for candy. Spearmint Dental in Edmonton offered $1 for every pound of candy returned to the office on 1st November. “We believe in rewarding children for their efforts by giving them something in return,” says Dr Sean Bhasin. No word on what is to become of all that waste sugar but Diary suggests an ongoing campaign: Christmas is coming – convert those candy canes to hard currency!

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

From Practice Manager Issue 11 p15

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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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