I settle down to read on the train, enjoying the unusually large amount of leg room, when a panicked PA announcement asks for a doctor to attend an emergency in coach B. A murmur ripples through the coach.
The couple sitting opposite me jump up. Phew. I am still a medical student, certainly not going to be helpful here.
I remember that I started as an F1 this August, should I go to coach B? Six more people rush past me. I assess the situation. There’s probably a whole multidisciplinary team there by now and one of the passengers definitely looked like a medical registrar.
Is my extensive hospital experience (three weeks as an F1 on paediatrics) really going to help the situation? I think not.
Another four people rush past, there might be a lot of leg room but this train aisle is narrow. Certainly not enough space for me in coach B; I sit tight.
I was on the train back home, having spent the weekend with a friend from medical school. We had spent hours swapping stories from our first three weeks on the job and I had been shocked by her lack of support on her medical firm — no other juniors, no registrar, just her, 40 sick patients and the consultant.
Although she was probably the most competent student in our year, she had been given a completely inappropriate job. It frustrated both of us.
The carriage doors open behind me and the sizeable multidisciplinary team spill out from coach B. ‘Disaster averted.’
I am reassured by my decision to stay put and text my F1 friend, suggesting an easier way to get senior medical input for her patients and training for herself might be to kidnap the patients and head for the nearest national rail service.
I stretch out in my seat and return to my book, scared to get out my BMJ in case someone wonders why I didn't go to help.
Sheila Lumley is an F1 in London