Intended for healthcare professionals

Feature Christmas 2010: Primary Care

Reflections of Father Christmas’s GP

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: (Published 10 December 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c6782
  1. Quentin Shaw, general practitioner principal
  1. 1Stirchley Medical Centre, Telford TF3 1FB, UK
  1. Correspondence to:{at}
  • Accepted 15 November 2010

Father Christmas may not be such an unhealthy role model after all. Quentin Shaw, his GP for 20 years, sets the record straight

A recent article accused Father Christmas of being a poor health role model for children, and “a public health pariah.”1 By implication, the authors criticise the quality of his healthcare, a criticism that I find hard to take, as his general practitioner.

Guidance from the General Medical Council recommends that doctors should not disclose confidential patient information, even to rectify false assertions made by the patient or others in the press.2 There may be occasions, however, when disclosure “in the public interest” is appropriate. On this basis, with the informed consent of the patient, and after discussion with respected colleagues and my defence union, I would like to set the record straight.

Father Christmas (FC) registered as a patient with Stirchley Medical Practice in 1991, using the name Nicholas S Claus. His relationship with GPs and staff has been, for much of the past 20 years, somewhat tense, but despite his repeated threats to leave our list, we have managed to maintain engagement with him.

He has not been the easiest of patients to deal with. Despite our policy of encouraging patients to consult a named “usual GP,” he seeks care impetuously, electing to consult medical students, registrars, or other young doctors, rather than wait for a booked appointment with his own GP. Such behaviour is often adopted by patients who want to avoid being confronted about their unhealthy lifestyle.

Younger practitioners are often perceived as more likely to comply with the …

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