Letters

Contacting GP surgeries over Christmas

BMJ 1999; 319 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.319.7208.513 (Published 21 August 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;319:513

I will be in my surgery on Christmas Day if ministers and researchers are at work too

  1. Bob Tanner, general practitioner (clareandbob@msn.com)
  1. Health Centre, Llangollen LL20 8HL
  2. Moss Valley Medical Practice, Eckington S21 4BZ
  3. Greenbank Surgery, 1025 Stratford Road, Birmingham B28 8BG
  4. Greenbank Surgery, 1025 Stratford Road, Birmingham B28 8BG
  5. Department of Public Health and Epidemiology, University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2TT

    EDITOR—A more plausible interpretation of the data presented by Rouse is that his researcher did not allow the telephone to ring for sufficient time to allow a member of the practice staff to answer it.1 The table shows that the researcher made around 270 telephone calls to the 91 practices in the three days before Christmas. This equates to an average of one call every 4 minutes. In reality, the researcher must have allowed the telephone to ring for much less time than this.

    With regard to his exhortation to the health secretary to make me and my colleagues keep our doors open over Christmas, I would like to make Rouse an offer: I am willing to spend Christmas Day sitting at my desk in surgery if he will sit at his desk in his academic office and Frank Dobson at his desk in Westminster. Otherwise, unless I happen to be on call, I shall be spending Christmas Day with my family enjoying a break from the burgeoning public expectations being fuelled by politicians and epidemiologists in promoting a 24 hour a day “convenience store” mentality towards general practice.

    References

    1. 1.

    Several points need to be clarified

    1. Martin McShane, general practitioner (Martin.McShane@tesco.net)
    1. Health Centre, Llangollen LL20 8HL
    2. Moss Valley Medical Practice, Eckington S21 4BZ
    3. Greenbank Surgery, 1025 Stratford Road, Birmingham B28 8BG
    4. Greenbank Surgery, 1025 Stratford Road, Birmingham B28 8BG
    5. Department of Public Health and Epidemiology, University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2TT

      EDITOR—Rouse raises some interesting points,1 which merit consideration before his letter is dismissed.

      Undoubtedly it would have been difficult to get through to surgeries immediately before Christmas. As anyone working in primary care knows, this is a time of peak demand. This demand was exacerbated by an increase in cases of influenza. However, Rouse did not clarify several important points about how contact was attempted. Many surgeries now …

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