Dr (A/Prof.) James van Gelder, Neurosurgeon

Most of our posts on Sydney Specialist doctors are about all the problems we and/or our readers have had in dealing with them, but this one is completely different – the following has left us SO impressed with Dr van Gelder.

One of our readers reports that, following a referral to him by a GP, this was sent to him in an email, using his ordinary email address that was/is readily available:-

(The GP had gone as far as to say the problem might be “a life and death matter!!!!!”)

The response from Dr van Gelder’s assistant was:-

We were/are SO impressed! In our experience there wouldn’t be 1 Sydney Specialist doctor in 50 who would be so helpful.

Firstly, most of them don’t have an ordinary email address readily available – at best they have an email form, which is not nearly as easy and convenient to use. (As much as we can, we don’t bother with those who don’t have an ordinary email address readily available.)

Secondly, in all probability less than one third of those who got such a letter, would even acknowledge it, let alone respond to it.

Then, in the responses that were sent, less than half of them would indicate that the doctor had had any input in the responses – they would just be from one the doctor’s front ┬ádesk people.

Fourthly, the last thing that would happen would be that the doctor would put his reputation on the line, in writing, to the extent that has been done in this email.

Most of the time, if you get a response at all, it’s a vague, “Yes, that’s within the doctor’s areas of expertise,” from one of the doctors front desk people – and you have to spend the time, the effort and the expense to have a face to face consultation to learn what’s in this email, and even then you often don’t get it in writing

The very best doctors avoid seeing patients looking for help in areas outside their areas of real expertise – in this way they have the satisfaction of helping patients the most. In contrast, lesser doctors have a great interest in seeing patients needing help in areas only vaguely connected to their areas of expertise, because they don’t have enough patients wanting to ┬ásee them for help in their real areas of expertise, if any.

Our view is that even if 10 out every 50 Sydney Specialist doctors were like Dr Van Gelder, instead of 1, the world would be a very different place.

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