But how does a practice owner, or manager or whoever, appraise what this bloke is like? What meaningful measures are there for evaluating a prospective GP, for long gone are the IPA days of actual GP performance measurement, when I could compare, however meaninglessly, my prescribing or lab ordering against that of a colleague. Now about all I ever see is a patient satisfaction survey that tells me nothing that isn’t bloomingly obvious.
As for stuff that might be important to a manager, like, will this doctor make you money, that is of course tied up in practice databases and, as we know from the latest NZ Journal of Primary Care, there is no metric in common use to make a meaningful comparison between GPs.
Nevertheless, there is that the old favourite, the reference. Not a piece of paper saying, “Joe’s a great bloke, plays rugger, knows how to get on with the boys and is a Wellington College Old Boy.”
Rather, it’s the phone call that in the modern world remains the true and trusted information source, so long as you can trust the person on the other end of the line, that they actually have employed or worked, rather than drunk with, the candidate and they know what’s a good doctor and a good team player.
Over the years, I’ve employed a fair few doctors. The majority have been great. A few, not so. I have rung plenty of referees and use the grape and kumara vines of friends I trust to give me useful information on many, as opposed to the specious prolixity of more formal channels. The old “Not what you know, rather who you know” principle.
But why have I only ever been contacted three times concerning a GP who has worked in my practice? Why has no one ever rung me to learn about the dos and don’ts of their new GP, especially the ones who have left unwanted? What’s up, besides professional blinkers?
There’s a very obvious reason why prospective GP employers don’t do this, the 69 GP vacancies on the RNZCGP Classified website being testimony to this. Beggars cannot be choosers, but surely we are a profession, we are collegial, and we are willing to share the knowledge and understanding that practices develop with their doctors in order for all to learn and improve? Now that would be real CQI.