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Dr Robert Marriott and Dr John Cormack
"Home-made wine is not top of the wish list"
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Sunday, 24 December, 2000, 23:53 GMT
Patients' weird gifts to their doctors
Bought one for the GP yet?
Bought one for the GP yet?
A doctor's place at the heart of a community can be recognised by a bulging sack of presents from patients wishing to express their gratitude at Christmas.

But surveys reveal that while they have the best intentions, many patients are afflicted by a seasonal bout of Crazy Present Syndrome.

Doctors do receive unwelcome presents, but they say they appreciate patients thinking of them, especially if the presents have a personal touch.

A survey by Hospital Doctor magazine found doctors can receive all kinds of presents from patients including vintage champagne and a stuffed duck.

Dr Suzanne Chapman, a consultant medical microbiologist at St Mary's Hospital in the Isle of Wight, told the magazine she had been lucky enough to receive a soap dish, and a broken pen.

She was most pleased with a jar of honey she received from a beekeeper she had never treated.

Dr Alan Shrank, a consultant dermatologist from Shropshire, treasures a stuffed duck, a present from a girl he treated 30 years ago.

Dr Tony Copperfield, a columnist on the Hospital Doctor describes his worst ever present as "a desk calendar garlanded with pictures of kittens that plays a tune whenever the date is changed".

'Morale boost'

Consultant obstetrician Mr Rupert Fawdrey, now based at Milton Keynes, said the best present he had received was free haircuts for he and his family from grateful patients when he worked in Iran.

He said: "If you're having a horrendous day, you're really down, and you receive a present, it boosts your morale no end, and makes you feel worthwhile.

Dr Michael Taylor, chairman of the SPA said it had carried out the survey to highlight what he called the "bureaucratic nonsense" of a government plan to ask GPs to declare any presents worth more than 25.

But he added: "I wasn't surprised by the responses. I once received a pair of socks with pictures of condoms on, with the slogan 'safe socks'."

GP Dr Robert Marriott, from Dudley, told the BBC handmade presents were the nicest and said the best present he had received was a set of golf-clubs from a nursing home.

'Excellent institution'

GP Dr John Cormack, a doctor in South Woodham Ferrars, Essex, also praised home-made gifts.

I'd like to encourage all my patients to give me presents, whether large or small

Dr John Cormack
Essex GP

He told the BBC he was not at all worried the presents could be construed as a bribe.

"I'd like to encourage all my patients to give me presents, whether large or small. It's an excellent institution."

He said: "Everyone's job is the same. If you do it right, nobody comments, but if you do it wrong, you get into all sorts of trouble.

"Christmas is the one time when people can say thank you and they do it in all sorts of different ways."

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See also:

29 Nov 00 | Business
Spending on presents to rise
21 Dec 00 | UK
What a load of rubbish
20 Dec 00 | UK
Presents of Christmas past
23 Dec 99 | Health
Fill the wards with drunken folly
25 Dec 99 | Health
Bizarre tales from A&E
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