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Whether it is owing to their charming personalities, their bedside manners or that they are just lucky, some doctors are favoured by the number and value of the gifts they receive from their patients.
Lacking all those attributes, I can give you a complete list of the gifts I received during a 50-year medical career in the short space available here.
Let’s start with the smallest. I remember the package arriving one morning. I cut through the paper and tape, to reach a layer of tissue, and inside a tiny, glittering object, which has brought great joy in the 30 years since.
A patient had visited me at home and the door handle had come off in his hand. He blamed himself, rather than my inept home maintenance, and made good with exactly the right kind of screw to reattach it.
The screw was only slightly larger than the piece of grit I removed from the eye of a friend of a friend, who called me in much distress on a Sunday morning. A bit of local anaesthetic and eversion of the lid took me less than 30 seconds, and so the six bottles of vintage wine pressed upon me for the service equates to my best ever hourly rate.
The most valuable gift I’ve received is a painting worth several million pounds, depending on fluctuations in the art market and whether the ‘Co…’ I can make it on the signature in the corner is really that of John Constable, as I’ve always fancied.
In reality, the painting, a rustic scene which has hung in the lounge since I was left it in a will, is more likely to have been painted by a police constable.
Patients might occasionally like to relate their gifts to the specialty of the doctor concerned but my experience would suggest no thanks, you’re fine with the wine. I’m thinking of my antique guillotine egg opener, which is charming but has never really asserted its place on the breakfast table.
I owe this particular fortune to having somewhat inaccurately compared making a section to reach a cataractous lens with topping a boiled egg. The patient took me literally.
Perhaps my patients were simply keeping me out of trouble. Medical defence organisations urge caution and the GMC, while not banning the practice, says no gift received should affect the care you give.
If I were still on the register – I took voluntary erasure after retirement – this is one area where I really would have nothing to fear.
Peter Docherty is a retired consultant ophthalmologist from Derby
What is the strangest gift you have ever received from a patient? Use the comments section below
3 live turkeys were delivered for each of the junior doctors for Christmas and I was the only one on the ward . I had to take them home in my car .
Good information and thank you for the share,