Health and holidays
In his weekly Ward's World column, John Ward reminisces on visits to the GP surgery...
I have learnt that my doctor at the medical practice I attend is retiring soon and will be missed as it’s unique to have a doctor that when their name is brought up in any form of conversation, there is never a bad word mentioned about them.
I have had ‘experience’ of doctors that have left a lot to be desired if the following encounters in the past are anything to judge by that possibly put the on-screen antics of the ‘Carry On’ comedy films in direct competition for silliness.
Some years ago there were three doctors in our practice but if our chosen or designated doctor was not on duty, we could choose or be offered the opportunity to see another which worked reasonably well.
However, a new doctor came to the practice replacing another but while he was a sort of ‘chirpy’ type of person, sadly where it mattered - in the medical sense - he was somewhat lacking as we patients were to find out as soon as the novelty of his arrival wore off. My first encounter with him was to be the benchmark for subsequent visits if my designated doctor was not available as I told him my reason for seeing him.
He heard me out as he hummed, looked through my notes and then opened his drawer and pulled out a brochure for cross channel sailings and how good they were based on his own experiences as he then told me I really needed a holiday!
Quite how this equated to my going to him with a problem with my ears at the time escaped me as I expected a prescription for something or other to sort the problem, certainly not a timetable of the ferries sailing from Dover to Calais.
I came away wondering but nothing in the way of a remedy or to do with ferries but as I was to learn, this was his approach to anything medical, from a leg falling off to a bad cold, his catch phrase, if you like, in mostly all cases: “You know what’s wrong with you? You need a holiday!” I then booked in to see another doctor on the practice as soon as possible and I think the receptionist’s rolling of her eyes said a lot such as ‘not another one.”
Mavis worked in the same company as myself and also had him as her doctor until she got fed up as on one occasion she was going to “leave work early to go and see Thomas Cook” as she called him named, after the, then, travel agent.
She had an appointment booked but wondered what holiday recommendations he had for her as she had a problem with her shoulder so wondered what the outcome would be, and the next day we soon found out.
It seemed that there was not much wrong with her shoulder he assured her - much to her surprise plus waste of her time overall - but she did learn that he could recommend the then newly opened up Channel Tunnel and a handy alternative “if you suffer from seasickness travelling on the ferries,” which was not reassuring to Mave.
She too booked in to see another doctor a day or so later after leaving him.
Whenever his name was brought up in conversation, everybody seemed to have been told they ‘needed a holiday’ but while some managed to get a prescription, if lucky enough to get that far, none ever got one to be taken to the local travel agents to get something to be taken every day for 14 days, ferry included, on land or sea.
Sadly this sort of malarkey went on for about two or three years until he suddenly left the practice with no official explanation but a mental breakdown was quoted a while after by some of the staff who had been told to keep things ‘discreetly quiet’ if they were asked. Another doctor on the practice was so popular, and basically he was the practice due to his turnover of seeing patents as he didn’t mess about and, importantly, sorted you out.
The centre waiting area had three lines or blocks of seats for those wishing to see their designated doctor: A block was for possibly the worst, ill mannered doctor you could wish not to meet, Dr Nasty-Bynature; B block was Dr Popularity with C Block reserved for budding travel enthusiasts or ferry representatives. I was there one morning, or nearly there I should say, as B Block was packed to capacity with standing room only - it made Cup Final Day at Wembley seem like a street corner gathering - with C Block being half full of potential holiday makers and day trippers with A block full of nothing breathing.
A short while later after that morning’s flow of patients got rolling, Dr Nasty-Bynature appeared behind the reception desk to gaze at the patient lists before asking one of the receptionists: “Is there anybody for me today?’ followed by a positive ‘no’ as he turned and wandered off back to wherever it was he hid for the rest of the day.
I did ‘see’ him once and vowed never to again as he was so abrupt, ignorant with possibly a gold medal for sheer arrogance as I came out worse than when I went in and realised that the many stories I had heard about him were indeed possibly true.
On the positive side he had no personality or ‘people skills’ with the biggest mystery being how he had survived for so long but certainly a holiday in his case would be pointless unless he went and never returned but I gather he is now long retired.
One patient said that while we were stuck with him, we were possibly being denied a very good doctor who could have evened up the practice by taking the workload away from Dr Popularity.
Presently I have been very happy with my doctor, and the staff there over the past decade or more and I truly wish him the best for the future, even if he does have a holiday, prescribed or otherwise.