GP locums may find themselves challenged successfully by established staff around issues that the doctor feels affect clinical practice: “sign this, this, and this,” in rapid and blinding speed. It is understandable, if unhelpful, that the GP who is away, and who has never met the locum, will take the version of history as narrated by his secretary: “the locum would not sign some of the forms”. The principal may be understandably shy and reticent to discuss an awkward issue with the locum, now gone. It is easier to not talk with the locum to get both sides and it is easier not to hire the awkward locum again rather than upset the applecart. Gone is the search for the truth and best practice.
We are all human and we all have bad days, but human upset will cause human error. Medical error is far more expensive and time-consuming than working on all relationships, especially the vulnerable ones. Strange as it may seem, the most vulnerable person is often the doctor.
Dr Paul Heslin is a GP based in Dublin