One of the core elements I love about being a GP is the ability to care for someone holistically – considering the interactions of physical, psychological, and social factors. When this is done well, a very powerful therapeutic relationship develops.
When I started practicing 20 years ago, this would occur quite naturally, with patients seeing me for all sorts of problems, big and small – the big problems would have sufficient time to be dealt with, and when the appointment was for a minor issue, we would sort that out and then have time to build on that all-important relationship, exploring family history, how studies/ work/ responsibilities could be affecting health and how we could address that, and much more.
Over the past few years, however, a new approach has developed which is threatening the more preventative side of the GP/patient relationship – more often I am hearing “I’ll see you for the big or complex problems, but go to the local bulk billing clinic if I have a cold”. I believe this approach is sub-optimal long term. Not seeing patients for small or simple problems like colds means we don’t see each other for longer periods, and miss valuable opportunities to “check in” about those bigger and more complex issues whilst building our relationship and understanding.
Of course, I am grateful that patients trust me and other doctors at Turn The Corner to manage big and complex problems. Some of us have long waiting lists and it can be hard to get in at short notice to discuss those smaller, more urgent issues. Personally, I am trialling some on-the-day appointments to try and find a better balance between being available for chronic health needs as well as be available for more urgent needs. I hope that this provides improved availability to achieve what I’ve discussed in this article.
So, do please see me for your cold too – it helps me to partner with you in your healthcare in the most effective way. Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts and I wish you good health.