What does the Doctor say for August?
A view from my world into another world – which one is the real world?
Alyson, our daughter, works as a medical secretary and general fac totum in a GP practice near Redditch, in the Midlands. For years, she has been describing the torrent of abuse she receives from patients on a daily basis. (For the rest of this article, let us substitute the word which begins with “f' and ends with “ing” with “Xing” and life will be easier). An example – one of Alyson's very nice doctors, a Nigerian, came in, took morning surgery and then asked Alyson to rearrange some of his patients' appointments because his brother had just been murdered in the family home and he was mightily distressed. Alyson had permission to explain the reason for these changes and set about telephoning the patients. Several of the responses were along the following lines - “Your Xing practice is Xing useless. We Xing wait ages for a Xing appointment and then you Xing ring to alter the Xing thing. What kind of Xing outfit are you Xing running? For Alyson, this was the last straw. This is the sort of abuse she and the other staff suffer daily and she has had enough of it.
Deannie and I spent a weekend in Sutton Coldfield with our other daughter, Charlotte and her family. We parked in a “Pay before you leave” car park and had lunch. Afterwards, we paid, got the exit ticket and joined a queue behind a boy racer who had failed to pay beforehand and was blocking the exit while his companion went off to the machine, some distance away, to pay and get the exit ticket. Beside his car was a lay-by to be used by people in his situation to allow others to pass and leave the car park. I wandered up and asked him if he would mind using the lay-by so that we could all leave. He removed his headphones, turned down his ghetto-blaster and moved the chewing gum from one side of his mouth to the other before releasing a tirade “I'm not Xing moving my Xing car into that Xing layby. I might Xing kerb my wheels and Xing damage the rims. You'll have to wait”. Perhaps foolishly, I asked him why it was that he was unable to manoeuvre his car without risk to his wheels. This produced another tirade, full of Xings and ending “F off you pr..k” (what a rose thorn does to your finger). I got the message, called him a “poor fellow” (a habit picked up from our friend Timothy in India when dealing with difficult people) and returned to Management in our car. I'll tell you about Timothy next time.
I have to say I was quite rattled by this chap, who was so obviously overflowing with anger and frustration, and had given me a glimpse into another world, one which seems to be inhabited by a lot of Alyson's patients.
This set me thinking. I have spent 45 years as a GP and I have never been sworn at by a patient. I enjoy meeting the vast majority of my patients; over the years, many have become friends and doing some locum sessions in Feltwell recently has been brilliant, seeing many of my old patients/old friends again. Over the years, the doctor-patient relationship develops on a basis of mutual trust and respect and this becomes a powerful force after a lot of years, for many of which I was working in Feltwell 24/7 and single handed. Similar relationships have developed in Boughton, where I have been doing locum work for 9 years since I retired from Feltwell surgery. Life in a modern surgery can be very stressful but the receptionists are never abused by patients.
So, am I living in a bubble where everything is polite and calm? Is mine the real world or is the other world, inhabited by Alyson's patients and the poor fellow in the car, the real world? On reflection, I think they are both parts of the real world and I have to say, I much prefer my world!
I am grateful to Nigel Enderby for the following reflections:
The things that come to those who wait are usually left by those who got there first
God gave you toes to enable you to find furniture in the dark
The 50-50-90 Rule: Anytime you have a 50-50 chance of getting something right, there is a 90% probability you will get it wrong!
He who laughs last thinks slowest
A fine is a tax for doing wrong. A tax is a fine for doing something right.
Best wishes to you all Ian Nisbet