One of the causes of increased workload in general practice are the many requests that doctors get for letters from patients or from external organisations. It’s now so common that doctors have coined a term for it: GANFYD – Get A Note From Your Doctor.
It’s seems that large sections of society can’t function without these “letters from doctors”. Instead of using common sense or employing their own clinical advisers, external organisations make repeated requests to NHS doctors for letters which are not at all needed.
Often the worst offenders come from the public sector – e.g. universities who seem to look upon NHS general practice as a source of free occupational health advice for their students. Universities never – of course – offer to pay for this advice they get from NHS GPs.
Instead, university requests will come with a mealy-mouthed statement that any fee is the responsibility of the student. Like doctors are going to impose heavy fees on impoverished students who already have large debts and are who are often living in poverty.
Local government and schools are other frequent offenders, requesting letters for issues they could easily resolve themselves using some common sense. And perhaps surprisingly, the NHS is also a frequent offender (you would think that NHS Trusts would know better).
What’s the solution? I have concluded that to address the GANFYD problem, we need to remember the adage “money talks while bullshit walks”. But don’t charge patients. Change NHS regulations so the (suitably large fee) is the responsibility of the organisation making the request.
The NHS is under great pressure and we urgently need to do everything we can to reduce unnecessary work in the NHS so that NHS staff can focus on clinical work.