Liam Farrell - I'm your GP, not your best buddy, understand?

I'm old school; I believe in an appropriate degree of formality. I'm a bit aloof, I'm not the touchy-feely type, I don't hug, I don't kiss, I never patronise elderly people by addressing them by their first names, and I never high-five or fist-bump adolescents, no matter how nauseating they are.

Just as no man is hero to his valet (in the days when people had valets), some distance is a good thing. If the doctor-patient relationship becomes too close, there is the very real danger that the patient will realise that much of the time the doctor hasn't a clue what's really going on and is acting on a best guess basis. And the relationship goes both ways; I'm not a robot, I've got feelings, and I can be offended too.

So I draw the line at patients calling me by my first name. It erodes the mystique our ancient profession has painstakingly earned over the centuries, often in the face of prejudice and persecution.

We'll lose the doctor-as-drug effect, though I don't think mine was ever very potent, roughly equivalent to 'take two aspirin and see how you are in the morning'.

'Can I call you Liam?' said the new patient, obviously not yet up to speed with my traditional value system.

Some people are just uppity, I blame it on free education and communism and political correctness gone mad and, most of all, on rock music (it's just a bunch of satanic messages).

'Look,' I said, 'I didn't spend six years at medical school and four years as a junior doctor, a total of 10 years of exhaustion and ridicule and humiliation and blood and sweat and other less salubrious body fluids and drinking myself into a stupor and having wild sex with every agreeable female (OK, it wasn't all bad), in the process acquiring so many letters after my name (albeit accidentally) you could play Scrabble with them, just so I would have to put up with your risible attempts at offensive chumminess.

'I'm your doctor, not your buddy; if you want a friend, get a dog.'

Well, of course, I didn't actually say it out loud; old school, we never betray our feelings.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins


Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

Close up of hand holding sample tube with 'Omicron' handwritten on side

Government urged to 'free up' GP practices and expand steps to control Omicron

GPs have called for immediate action such as suspension of QOF to allow practices...

(Photo: Mike Kemp/Getty Images)

Coronavirus: Key guidance GPs need to know about COVID-19

GPonline provides an overview of the key guidance relating to coronavirus, including...

External wall of GP surgery with wording 'medical centre'

‘Utterly toxic’: GPs speak out over abuse and physical attacks on practice teams

GPs have condemned a rise in verbal and physical attacks on practice staff - warning...

Artist's image of a spiked virus

Javid warns of 'substantial risk' from new COVID-19 variant

The highly mutated COVID-19 variant B.1.1.529 'may pose a significant risk to public...

Desk with lettering 'LMC conference'

LMCs reject 'outdated' GMS contract and demand move to item of service payments

LMCs have voted to scrap the 'outdated and inadequate' GMS contract and to replace...

GPs at an LMC conference waving green voting cards in the air

LMCs demand ringfence on enhanced services cash and clear GP representation in ICSs

LMCs have called for a ringfence on enhanced services funding, along with a guarantee...