When not to pick up the telephone

Sometimes you really can’t fit into one day all the visits, phone calls, appointments and quality framework stuff that you need to do.

So the quality framework stuff waits until Saturday morning in bed, and some visits end up being done at 7pm, and the surgery closes late so that the extras get seen.

But occasionally some of the phone calls don’t get done. I always end up calling them back because you never know, do you? They might be ringing to check your postcode to send you champagne. No, it’s the phone calls that say please phone Dr Clever in radiology between 9am and 12pm. But morning surgery lasts until 12:30pm and I didn’t even find the message till teatime, and even if I had there wouldn’t have been time to act on it because two of my appointments were double booked and I had an HGV medical in a 10-minute slot, expecting the full £60 worth.

So Dr Clever never got rung, which is a shame because it was about Mrs Ill, who in fact should be called Mrs Thinks She’s Ill But Is In Fact Fitter Than Me — but that would be awfully laborious on the Lloyd George.

My fear is that Dr Clever is ringing to tell me she is ill, after all, in some obscure way that I could never have picked up but that Panorama will absolutely love. So I spent the weekend worrying about Dr Clever, while all the time pretending to sort out the requirements for chronic kidney disease.

Who else never gets rung? The relatives, that’s who. The people who leave a message saying they’d like a chat about someone else. Those I don’t ring. They get a message back saying: ‘Well then, come in with them when they come to their appointment’. If I had a chat with all of

Mrs Fecund’s six daughters I would be there for hours — and Mrs Fecund, who is of sound mind, would be furious. Still, they wouldn’t put me on Panorama twice would they?

Dr Selby is a GP in Suffolk.
You can write to her at

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