Most unhelpful comment from your doctor? - British Lung Foun...

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Most unhelpful comment from your doctor?


It can't just be me, I'm sure others have had a less than useful comment from their GP. To date these two come to mind.

At the beginning of investigations of my breathlessness, ECG and Spirometry done at the surgery and GP says she will refer me to hospital for further tests. I'm giving her as much information as I can, she's asking how far can I walk before getting breathless, what sort of pace, etc. I live in a small town where we have the sea one side, mountains the other and there lots of little roads up hills leading to lots of houses built on the hillsides. I tell her that I struggle with any inclines and her comment?

"Well, just walk on the flat then".

The other one happened a few years ago and I now realise this was probably a big clue and should possibly have nudged my GP into investigating a lot earlier than she did.

I was at the surgery getting the results of my annual thyroid function test. I mentioned that I seemed to be getting a lot of mucous and needing to cough to move it or clear my throat frequently. She gave me a little pot and said to bring a sample of mucous in and she would get it tested for infection to start with. I told her that might be difficult as I had great difficulty in coughing it up, probably something to do with growing up with a grandfather whose whole life revolved around coughing up mucous, spitting it into little squares of newspaper and throwing them onto the open fire to the sound of "sssssssssssss....................". It's just an abiding memory which to this very day I can still picture and gives me the heebie jeebies. It's the only thng I remember about my grandfather. She said to do my best and bring a sample in.

Well, I tried for 2 years but never managed it and at another appointment for thyroid test results I mentioned that here we were, 2 years down the line and I still couldn't manage to cough up a mucous sample. Her words...............

"What are you like!"

I'll save the inadequacies of my particular surgery for another post, another day.

So, what useless pearls of wisdom has your GP come out with?

10 Replies

With a GP like that, I would look for a new, more sympathetic one. Talk around and then change. The other alternative which would be mine, is that I would sort her out face to face. But then I am used to medics, having worked in hospitals.

Some GPs have the knowledge that they need but they lack a sympathetic approach. They forget that if it wasn't for the likes of you, that they would be out of a job. Remember that.

My GP has tried useless pearls of wisdom with me like losing weight - Cant do it so I had a "face to face" with him. We still get on with each other. Best of luck!

SeasideSusie in reply to Hidden

Unfortunately there is no choice. Living in a fairly rural area this surgery covers a big area including surrounding villages, just nowhere else to go. And I see the best one in the surgery! It is a 4 x GP surgery, talk this week is that one has done a runner (a locum has been brought in), my GP is actually unavailable as she "is off for a month", the other lady GP has the dubious reputation of being hopeless and a liking for a natter, the remaining male GP is rude and obnoxious and thought it better to put my husband under sedation four days before he died purely because he panicked at the thought of having his morphine based drugs by syringe driver (he'd had previous bad experience of hallucinations when having intravenous morphine 24/7 for a week) when he could no longer swallow his tablets. At least my GP sat with him the next day and gently explained why he needed the syringe driver and persuaded him to agree.

I was told by the nurse at the COPD clinic yesterday that I needed to see a doctor to discuss possibly changing my inhaler. I wasn't offered but didn't want to see the locum and have to go through everything again, I refuse to see the male GP who treated my husband so appallingly so I opted for the hopeless one! Oh well, we can have a bit of a chat and I can tell her the nurse has advised the change.

Oh you poor girl. You don't seem to have any option. I would end up in floods of tears and just avoid going. I am no good at sticking up for myself. Luckily, I have a decent doctor and all the other GP's in the practice seem nice. Even the receptionists are very friendly too which is rare in some surgeries. Hope you get some sort of satisfaction eventually.

Marina x


Sometimes the locum can be the better choice,,,sounds like a fresh face could be the best option..


Google PALS and if they can help. We need to have a doctor we can trust.


I have often found the locums at my surgery to be better than the regulars. Maybe this is because they are younger and keener and trying to impress?

Talking about weight did anyone see Embarrassing Bodies the other week? The doctor put on a fat suit for a day to see what it was like being overweight. He said it was standard practise for medical professionals to tell overweight patients to excercise. He found that he couldn't at all in his fat suit. He said he won't be telling overweight patients that any more!

Bev x

Hello Seasidesusie,

Sorry to hear that you are having issues in your practice.

Yes contact with local PALS is a good idea, otherwise how is a practice going to improve of they dont get any constructive feedback ?

And does your practice have a patient group which you can join? Better to work together eh to bring about positive change.

Good luck :-)


"Well, you are 45, you can't be running around like a spring chicken" Was my GP's comment on my 4th visit to see him about my breathlessness. 3 years on and now on the list for a double lung transplant, due to IPF I resist the urge to shout "I knew it wasn't my blooming age!" Every time I see him ;-)

Unhelpful comment from my doctor before I changed. When I first got diagnosed I didn't know anything about COPD and asked the doctor did it make any difference to my lifespan.

His answer. " We all have to die someday. You might walk out of here and get run over by a bus ". Miserable person I think !

I do recall Pete seeing a particularly useless doctor once at our surgery and he questioned how Pete knew he had sarcoidosis! Pete nearly said "Oh just a wild stab in the dark doc" but went on to explain how it all started in 1991 and that he was under the Royal Brompton. That shut the GP up and he went on to examine Pete in silence for a little while.

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