Posted by: Witch Doctor | January 25, 2011

Just found this……


My Black Cat decided to tidy up The Computer while The Witch Doctor was gutting out The Spell Pantry.

She found this, and asked whether she she should put it in the trash can.

After a moment, The Witch Doctor confirmed it should go into the trash can, but not before she got in her tuppence-worth about it here.

Because, while The Witch Doctor was cleaning out the Spell Pantry, she was thinking about a very eminent doctor that she worked with many years ago. In fact she wondered if he was still alive. She used to come across him occasionally pottering about as he enjoyed his retirement but hadn’t seen him for some time. He would be very old by now.

She then considered a conversation she had with this high profile doctor many years ago the week before he retired.

The documentation relating to a lifetime of work inhabited all his drawers and cupboards in his office. Much of it was committee work. He bemoaned that, with hind-site, much of this had been a total waste of time. Very little of it came to fruition because of cutbacks, lack of decision making or the ever-ending change of policy as governments come and go.

Recently when another colleague retired she witnessed the same clear-out of drawers and cupboards. A similar statement was made about so much work that had gone into so many documents that never resulted in anything at all, far less any improvement for the patient.

The Witch Doctor then asked this colleague, what proportion of his working life did he estimate had been a waste of time.

He replied, “about 50%”

It seems to be that those retiring from the NHS / Universities seem to have a sudden moment of insight they did not have when they were working.

However, if you look at the diagram My Black Cat unearthed, then you will see The Poor Doctor sitting in the midst of a sea of colour. He/she is being bombarded. These waves of assault are becoming forever higher, forever more dangerous.  These are national assaults.. There are many more local assaults on a doctor’s time that never make the headlines. These will require (much of this is compulsory nowadays) input into a multitude of proposals many of which will fester on the shlelf.

These waves of assault will become much more treacherous with the onset of revalidation.

Treacherous for the patient that is, not for the older more experienced doctors, and some not so old.

Many doctors are already planning their exit because there will be too much hassle and too much time will be wasted.

They will realise that life is far too short for all this demanding nonsense.

If you scout around Bad Medicine, you will find Dr No has written several posts relating to workforce problems now and in the future.

Here is a taster:


“The third person has developed ideas above its station. It has mutated into a management Medusa that seeks to dominate each and every aspect of the relationship between the doctor and his job. Even his job has begun to change beyond recognition, straining the ancient glue to its very limits. There will be endless rows, and recriminations, and many a tear will be shed.

Separations will occur; and yet even after each more severe estrangement, medicine and Medusa will return, to woo the doctor once more. But relationships, even the strongest, can only take so much strain. How many doctors, facing an ever more pressing, insistent, and ultimately tiresome mistress, will one day draw a short breath and say lightly but softly:

‘My dear, I don’t give a damn.’?

It might be worth casting an eye over an editorial that recently appeared in the BMJ. They are all getting a bit jittery.

PLANNING A CONSULTANT DELIVERED NHS (scroll down to the last article)

Possibly, My Black Cat will have a few thoughts about it after she’s read it too.

Incidentally, did you know that consultants working within the NHS and Universities have so many emails with their lengthy enclosures bombarding them form both institutions that it would be impossible to read them all and act upon them and do a days work too.

They have to ration what they read. Too bad if they get it wrong.

The Witch Doctor often wonders whether Dr Shirine Boardman’s troubles stemmed form this. Perhaps her colleague, The Caldicott Guardian, and others drowned her with so much documentation that she didn’t read the bit that said consultants are no longer allowed to send details of patients names and address to themselves from themselves.

Or maybe she did read it, and thought it must be a misprint.

We’ll never know, My Black Cat, will we?




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  1. […] doctors and medical practice Posted on November 30, 2011 by ISOwatcher The Witchdoctor’s colleague thinks “about 50%” of his working time was wasted.  This sounds to me like a more productive career than most.  For many people the work they did […]

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