Dr Grants Blog – June 2019
Day in the life of a GP
I leave for work at 7.45 am, a journey I have been doing for an unbelievable 20 years. Every day is different, which is why I love the job that I do. It makes the day interesting, but also slightly scary because I never know what I might face.
Surgery normally starts at 8.30. We have 15 appointments in the morning and 14 in the afternoon. However we pride ourselves on good access, and we try to respond to demand. So at busy times we often add additional appointments and we may see 20 people in a morning surgery.
We have 10 minute appointments, and if I see someone with several different problems, it can be very difficult to keep to time. Unfortunately I have a reputation of always running late. Sorry to all the many hundreds of people I have kept waiting over the years!
Every consultation is different, some involve complex medical conditions and occasionally there may be a medical emergency, for example someone with chest pain. This may involve asking other members of the practice team to assist. A straight forward sore throat or urine infection is a welcome relief and a chance to catch up! Most of our work is done electronically. Throughout my surgery I can see the doctors "tasks" accumulating. One task represents one piece of work. These might be something simple, for example, a blood test to look at, or it might be something more time consuming, for example a referral letter to write or a report to complete. By the end of surgery, I may have 20 blood results to look at, 30-40 letters to read, action and file, and 30-40 prescription enquiries, phone calls, referrals and telephone appointments to action. The more appointments we offer, the more admin we generate, and the less time we have to do it. Administration forms a vast amount of our work, and it seems to increase year by year.
A lot of people think we have a very long lunch break between morning and afternoon surgeries. Sadly not! If I am lucky, i will have remembered to bring my lunch (and on a Tuesday, my long day, my tea as well!) I eat my sandwich whilst working through my list of tasks.
A GP surgery is a business. As with any business, there are meetings to attend, quality improvement work to do, policies and protocols to update, sometimes staff to recruit. We also meet with colleagues, for example the palliative care team, health visitors, district nurses and community matron. We work with other GP practices locally as the lower valley locality, soon to be a Primary Care Network. This is new and has involved LOTS of meetings! This work has to be fitted around surgeries.
On a good day, there are no home visits. Whilst essential in some cases, they are time consuming, and often prevent me from dealing with the blood results and prescriptions, because I have run out of time.
All too soon, it is time to start afternoon surgery. I usually finish about 6.pm. The receptionist goes home at 6.30pm; I usually work until 8.pm completing paperwork. It is a good time to speak to patients on the phone; most people are home by that time! I can also work more productively when surgery is quiet. I try to clear my in box before I go home, but increasingly there is just too much work to complete in a day. I can access my admin from home, so it isn't unusual for me to work on letters and reports for another hour or two later in the evening.
It can be a punishing workload at times. Fortunately I work with a fantastic, supportive team, and I do a rewarding job which I still love. I wouldn't want to do anything different-but more doctors wanting to train as GP'S would definitely make life less stressful in future!