Thursday, 19 August 2010


We are sure that up and down Northernshire GPs will be getting ready for work and wondering what items of creativity their patients will bring them today. One of the greatest items of creativity our patients bring us is encapsulated in the expression GANFYD which at first sight looks like a hamlet somewhere in the Celtic province of Wales but it in fact stands for Get A Note From Your Doctor.

Up North there is a sister hamlet called GALFYD which is Get A Letter From Your Doctor which is the local variant of this expression.

The Doctor’s letter is to most patients the equivalent of Dr Who’s sonic screwdriver and will open any door and bring untold riches to them if they can just blag one from the doctor. The usual ones are “The social have said I can’t have my benefit so I am appealing and they told me I need a letter”.

“I don’t like my current council house and I applying for a 17 bedroom mansion and they told me that if I get a letter from my doctor about my verruca then I will get one/move up the list.”

Do you notice a common theme? Patient wants something and feels they are more entitled to it than their fellow humans. They have not come of their own volition someone has TOLD them to get a letter.

Now most patients believe that their doctors are a) nice people who will do anything they ask and b) believe anything that they are told.

Some maybe but others know that for both of the above requests these letters will achieve nothing. They will however waste doctors’ and secretaries’ time. How do we know this? Because the local councils and benefit agency have written to us and said so. Both organizations say if they require medical information they usually write to doctors directly.

Patients do not take kindly to being told no and usually a prolonged period of procrastination follows the word no. Other examples of letters that we decline are the drug addict who wants a letter to excuse them from a court attendance or doing something like community service. The usual rule here is if you are fit enough to go to the doctor’s surgery you are fit enough to go to court.

Even the more educated members of our society will (allegedly) ask for doctor’s letters. For example a common ruse by local solicitors is to send a patient to get something that solicitors would normally be charged for or a patient would have to pay for as part of a compensation claim.

Examples are “My solicitor says you are to refer me for physiotherapy and here is a letter saying I should have it” or “My solicitor says could you give me a copy of my notes for date Y” or “My solicitor wants a letter to confirm disease X, Y or Z. Can you write me one now?

Such requests are usually turfed back to our esteemed legal colleague with the request that if “the solicitor wants it they ought to write to us and specify exactly what they want”. Usually no such letter appears so whether the solicitor actually wanted anything or the patient was lying we do not know but no time or expense is wasted on our part.

2 recent such requests for letters prompted this piece. The first was a request from a patient to tell their employer that they were fit for work after they had returned from a holiday abroad. The second was from a patient who wanted a letter to show their employer that they might need to go for a pee during the working day.

Think these are bad then have a look here at some of these examples from the originator of the GANFYD expression and some more information about doctors’ letters is here.

Praise be to the Party for instilling the idea of the GANFYD or GALFYD into patients. What will they bring us today?


pj said...

The whole 'fit note' thing has unfortunately lead quite a few patients (and employers) to think that they now need a note to go back to work when they're better!

Muhammad Shoaib said...

This can really help a lot of people i feel like. Thanks so much for this article!
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