GP Life: Team time - A Grand day out

It was a hard year of quality points, Choose and Book, PCT debts, and a cancelled summer barbecue, so we treated ourselves to a day trip to Brighton.

The partners and Caroline, our practice manager, sorted out the budget and itinerary. All staff, including ancillary and attached staff, were invited, and a locum GP and receptionist were booked to hold the fort.

That morning, we mopped up patients in short emergency surgeries. Before hopping on the coach, we broke open the fizz and mince pies and opened our Secret Santa presents.

On the coach we performed a puppet show using household items including a washing-up liquid bottle, brush and carrots. The mood was set.

Brighton seafront and the Grand Hotel were bathed in glorious winter sunshine. With party hats donned, we enjoyed tea with posh sandwiches, cakes and scones. We then had a few hours to shop in the Lanes, or stroll along the seafront. The day ended with supper in a seafront restaurant.

Wine with fish and chips proved to be a new experience for many.

Carol singing on the coach trip home was obligatory - Caroline had produced a song sheet and appointed a choir monitor to watch for shirkers.

The trip appears to have lifted spirits. Communication has improved and the practice is a relaxed place to work. We feel like a team, and staff feel the GPs are more approachable. And even though it is winter, everyone is smiling.

- Dr David Matthews is a GP in Thames Ditton, Surrey

Number in group: 32
Coach hire: £240
Tea at the De Vere Grand, Brighton: £15 per person
Fish supper: £14 per person
1 locum cover: 7 hrs
1 temp receptionist: 7 hrs

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