I am pleased and excited to welcome you to Essex Private Doctors, operating from The Regency Clinic, in Brentwood. Some of you will already have good experience of the service that we offer as patients of my long-term colleague Dr Jonathan Richardson, who was co-founder of this private clinic back in 2004. I was delighted to be asked by Jonathan to continue the work that he started, and as of February 3rd 2014 I will be working with him under our new name of Essex Private Doctors.
Private general practice may be an alien concept for some of you reading this blog. Perhaps one has never heard of GP’s working in the private sector to provide primary care, and thus may not have considered it an option to your conventional NHS GP.
So what should you expect from a private GP? Well, let’s take a step back and keep it simple….
What should you expect from every doctor?
The General Medical Council guidance “Good Medical Practice” (2013) helpfully summarises this in its “guide to patients”
- Doctors must provide good care
- Doctors must put patient’s safety first and make sure the care they provide is safe and effective.
- Doctors must treat patients as individuals
- Doctors must be honest and trustworthy.
This is all very true, and very correct. However this sounds more like a list of commandments, a rule book…a dry, medico-legal set of principle accepted norms by which to judge and be judged. Within this I do not see the essence by which we form that trusting, long-lasting association with OUR family doctor.
So we go back to the question. Well, we doctors do think we have an idea (we would wouldn’t we!) but I decided to think like my patients, like a consumer of my service rather than a provider, which led me to do some research of my own.
Thus, as a patient, this is what I would look for in my doctor:
- Greet me warmly. If you know me greet me by name. If you don’t then introduce yourself to me, welcome me respectfully and make me at ease.
- Listen to me. Hear my problem without interruption, and understand my concerns and anxiety. Please keep eye contact with me, and don’t be distracted by your prescription pad or your mobile.
- Be thorough in your analysis. Examine me carefully and considerately and then explain to me your findings or why further investigations are needed so that I understand.
- Outline your plan of management, what needs to be done in order for me to improve. Sometimes I will have some suggestions too so allow me to get involved if I want to. Be upfront if you feel I need the expertise of a specialist.
- Give me advice about what to expect and a prognosis. On occasion I will understand that the diagnosis and management plan may be an educated, risk-managed guess, but let me know what to look out for that will require further assessment from you or another doctor.
I would be very happy if my doctor was all of the above, but there was just one thing more that needed to be expressed.
Clearing out of my NHS room that I had occupied for eighteen years, I came across many stored “thank-you” notes and cards. Only the minority was for making magnificent diagnoses (though I am proud of a few!). Mostly it was for kindness, care and for time.
An article written by Dr. David Loxtercamp MD (an American physician) in the journal Annals of Family Medicine summarises this beautifully:
“Many physicians receive such notes, but not for their medical prowess (which, again, is expected, and not easily judged) but for their compassion—for actions that arise out of love and kindness, not duty and fear. Patients want their doctor to listen longer and allow them to express themselves in their own words. They want doctors who care about the outcome—the patient’s personal outcome, not just the clinical course —even if, in bearing witness to it, doctors will absorb their distress…Patients want to know that there is way out of their loneliness, confusion, panic, and pain. Most are not demanding perfection. Not cure. Not even relief, …What we all desire is a plan that connects us to another human being—our doctor—which is a kind of relief all its own. Patients come to us for conversation, friendship, and hope, trusting in this well-worn path to recovery.”
It is our aim at Essex Private Doctors to continue to care for you in this manner, and we value the trust that you place in us.
Dr Kannan Athreya
What do you think of this article? Do you agree? As a patient do you have anything you could add to my own list? I would love to hear from you. Email me here.