Letters, calls and emails: How can a patient know that I'm examining him properly?

Dear Editor

Is the patient survey questionnaire yet another evidence-free botheration for wasting our time (GP, 22 September)?  

Despite the protestations of Dr David Jenner (IPQ) and Professor Martin Roland (GPAQ) about the validity of their questionnaires, I remain unconvinced.  

Put simply, how are these instruments validated? What is the gold standard? Is there a gold standard?  

Dr Laurence Buckman, on the other hand, answers frankly: patient surveys are ‘simply what the government wants’.  

However, I would argue with his forecast of bankruptcy for those GPs who do not know what their patients want.  

My experience in all the places where I have worked, is that most GPs have too many patients, many practices find it difficult to recruit GPs for any kind of long-term commitment and patients mostly stay with their practice because they won’t get much better service anywhere else.  

Professor Janet Askham makes a very odd statement: patients ‘could for example comment on whether an examination was competent’. How? I could be a total klutz when it comes to cardiac murmurs but if I made a performance of examining the patient’s chest he would go away thinking I was fantastic. Even if I had missed his long-standing atrial septal defect which he had not known about and his incipient Eisenmenger.  

If patient surveys are here because the government wants them and is willing to pay for them, we should take a commercial view, run them off with as little effort as possible, make a show of jumping through the hoops, take the money and get on with our real work.  

Dr Declan Fox  

Newtonstewart, County Tyrone

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