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This year for Christmas I would please like an elf.
Ideally, I had in fact been hoping for a maternity locum, but an elf seems a more realistic request. It would be nice if the elf had MRCGP, but failing that, a first aid certificate would do.
Patients are already getting used to being seen all kinds of non-doctors, so I’m sure they won’t mind. In fact, I think we’re slowly phasing actual GPs completely out. The last three new appointments in our practice have all been ‘practitioners’ of various sorts rather than your old-fashioned went-to-medical-school-for-five-years-then-the-training-really-started dinosaur. So an elf practitioner would fit right in.
The elf needs to be prepared to work 12-hour days and still be very clever and nice to the patients. Fatigue is apparently a major risk factor for mistakes and poor decision making in the work place – well, who knew? - so being immune to tiredness would be an advantage.
Also they need a loud voice for shouting over the incredible number of patients in the waiting room, and the ability to clean up sick before anybody else slides over in it.
They must also be very good at inputting data into the computer, and fixing the printer, these things being more important than knowing which end of a speculum goes in your ears. Dr Google has usually done most of the diagnostic work by the time the patient gets this far, anyway.
And they can prescribe plenty of coffee but no antibiotics, because of the two, coffee seems more likely to make you live longer and as a real bonus it doesn’t get more useless the more you drink of it.
And Santa, it would be really nice if they had several elf-friends for some other practices nearby which are also slowly collapsing for want of doctors. (What is it with maternity locums? Why have they become rarer than hen’s teeth and rocking horse poo? Anyone would think they’d all decided to make more money giving Botox injections, and have an actual life.) Which reminds me, while I’m at it, could I also please have some fairy gold and pixie dust? About 350 million a week should do it. I’m pretty sure you promised me that last Christmas, come to think of it, and I still haven’t seen hide nor hair of it.
Finally please may I have a magic wand and a crystal ball? These will come in very handy for sorting out the spiralling social issues and chronic cases of shit-life-syndrome, and the crystal ball should help with filling out sick notes, sorry, fit notes.
Thank you very much in anticipation, Santa. I have been very good this year, so please don’t let me down. I’m fresh out of other ideas about how we’re going to get through the winter.
Felicitas Woodhouse is a GP in Warwickshire and was the winner of the 2016 BMA writing competition. She writes under a pseudonym.
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