GPs' powers of seduction are a perk of the job

No matter how hard I try, the permissive society continues to pass me by. It happened in the seventies (I was too young and too naive) and now it is happening again (I am too old and too repulsive).

There is obviously a lot of action going on out there, but I ain't getting any of it.

The rest of you must be hammering away like rabbits though, because for what other reason would the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence (CHRE), whoever they are, have seen fit to publish, at this particular time, new guidelines 'defining doctor-patient relationships'.

The CHRE's recommendations include not joking about sex, which is all very well on paper but presents problems in the real world.

Going all po-faced when old Johnny is boasting about his six times each night response to Viagra is hardly empathetic; a bit of humorous mugging is more appropriate in this situation.

I first read the guidelines in a daily newspaper; fat chance of circulating them to GPs first. This is of course only to be expected; the guidelines aren't really directed at us at all. They are instead aimed at the public, a cheap shot to give the impression that this CHRE outfit are actually doing something instead of sitting round a table all day on their fat arses before waddling off for their expense-account lunches.

They explain that 'the power imbalance created by the doctor-patient relationship can lead to GP's influencing treatment not in the patient's best interest'.

If they spent a bit of time at the coal face, they'd understand that this so-called power imbalance is the traditional way for GPs to get dates, the old you-have-a-terminal-disease-only-I-can-cure-it-now-how-about-taking-in- a-movie-and-maybe-some-dancing trick; we have never been able to rely on our looks, our charm or our income, and power is our only aphrodisiac.

As this power imbalance that they are so exasperated by occurs in virtually every social encounter, I assume the restrictions also apply to nurses, social workers, accountants, mechanics, sugar-daddies, computer technicians, bookmakers, etc.

It also presents a significant moral dilemma for the members of CHRE. Are all their personal relationships power-neutral beyond reproach?

Dr Farrell is a GP from County Armagh. Email him at

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