I was being interviewed for a directors post and I was asked about
working with colleagues in Health. Having discussed points of conflict
like delayed hospital discharges due to budget pressures on home care
and residential care home placements I went on to talk about my work
with the then Primary Care Trust. I recounted a discussion where the
GP’s around the table were expressing frustration about the increasing
number of patients they were seeing who did not have medical problems.
These patients one GP said were to use his expression,” suffering from
shitty life syndrome “. Immediately the body language of members of
the interview panel stiffened. It was clear that they thought this
sort of language was inappropriate in the same way I had when I heard
it. I went on to say that the GP in question had explained that he was
referring to patents who came typically complaining they could not
sleep and asking for sleeping tablets or anti depressants. A few
questions about home life and it quickly became apparent that the
husband had lost his job, there were mounting debt problems, teenage
daughter was staying out all night and 13 year old son with learning
difficulties had recently been brought home by the police accused with
a group of other boys of criminal damage.
I suggested to the interview panel that this was the area that GP’s
were looking to the local authority and social services in particular
for help and one that we could and should work together at a strategic
as well as an individual level.
I could have answered this interview question with out having used
the expression ,” shitty life syndrome” but I made a conscious
decision to do so because despite the risk it might be considered
inappropriate language in such a formal setting it was memorable.
After all it had stuck in my mind so it would most likely stick in the
interview panels mind. I hoped they would consider this memorable
answer a better answer than simply talking in general terms about the
value of multidisciplinary working because in a graphic way it
revealed an understanding of how GPs think as well as the common
ground between us.
I didn’t get the job.
Blair Mcpherson former Director, author and blogger www.blairmcpherson.co.uk