My heart sinks when I see that my next patient is a young woman whom I have seen quite frequently over the past few months with symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. She has been reluctant to believe this could be the diagnosis because she is not under stress. Over several consultations I have examined, reassured, tried medication, done all the relevant blood tests and arranged an abdominal ultrasound (which was normal). I have also investigated her concerns about pelvic inflammation by examination and swabs. I really didn't see what else I could do today, and called her into my room with a heavy heart.
To my surprise and delight she was all smiles and said her tummy ache is better although she still has some bloating, and the IBS information sheet I gave her last time was very helpful. Phew!
What seems to have happened is that over several consultations in which she was listened to and her concerns taken seriously, she gained enough confidence in me to accept my opinion. A doctor whom the patient trusts will be much more effective, and I have saved the NHS the cost of a specialist gastroenterology opinion, which is where I feared we were heading. How sad that Government policy sees little value in personal doctoring.