At my GP practice this week we received another email from our local hospital asking that, if at all possible, we avoided admitting those patients that in normal circumstances we would consider needed inpatient care. Such communications are always somewhat irksome since they seem to suggest that sometimes, simply for the fun of it, we want to expose our patients to the dubious pleasure of hospital food. Even so, one could understand, on this occasion at least, why the email had been sent since it was clear that our hardworking hospital colleagues were clearly experiencing unprecedented demand for, as it was being sent, there were 30 patients in the A&E department requiring admission for whom no bed was available.
But it wasn’t just the hospital that was struggling because, as that email was being received at our practice, the on call Doctor was himself overwhelmed as he tried to single-handedly deal with over 80 urgent individual patient contacts on a single day, proving, as he did so, that, once again, it is not GP access that is the problem but GP capacity.
On Wednesday evening I took refuge in the comforting surroundings of ‘The Repair Shop’. Those of you who watch the BBC television series will know what a brilliant program it is, showcasing as it does, the wonderful skills of a number of master craftsmen and women as each week they restore to life various cherished possessions that have long since seen better days. As I watched it this week I couldn’t help but wonder how different things would be if ‘The Repair Shop’ was part of the NHS as it now is. Because, for all its fantastic efforts, the NHS is daily becoming a more and more frenetic place to work and, this week of all weeks, nobody working on its frontline is finding life a breeze.
This week in the repair shop:
The owner of a treasured timepiece arrives at ‘The Repair Shop’ and is shocked to discover that, after waiting three years to see him, clock restorer Steve isn’t on hand to help. Informed that horological services are no longer available locally she is told that she will have to make a 200 mile round trip to have her chronometer looked at elsewhere.
An antique camera is restored by Brenton but, in order for its handle to be attended to, its disappointed owners are told that they will have to return home and see their local photographic dealer who, they are assured, will be happy to organise the necessary separate referral for them to see leather expert Susie.
Dom tries to repair an old battered bicycle but has to abandon the attempt when his sand blaster breaks down and he is therefore unable to remove its many years of accumulated rust. Ironically, Dom can’t tell the two-wheeler’s heartbroken owner when the sand blaster might be repaired and has to explain to him that he’ll simply have to wait a while longer.
Amanda is off with Covid and Julie, having been in close contact with her, is self isolating pending the result of her own PCR test. Consequently ceramic conservator Kirsten, despite her limited expertise in the area, takes over a soft toy repair and upsets a child when she inadvertently stitches back on the head of a thread bear teddy the wrong way round. Later, upset and distracted by what she’s done and swamped by her own escalating workload, Kirsten has to rush to get things done and consequently drops a priceless Ming vase.
Overwhelmed by unprecedented demand for his furniture repairs, Will is no longer able to cope. Not wanting his colleagues to witness his tears, he crawls under his workbench and is seen sat on the floor rocking back and forth with his head in his hands. Subsequently he joins Lucia who is already on long term sick leave as a result of work related stress. The two are heard considering taking early retirement.
As the queue of cars outside ‘The Repair Shop’ grows ever longer, with each vehicle containing another broken family heirloom in need of urgent care, Jay’s attention is drawn to a newspaper report suggesting that the craftspeople are themselves responsible for the the long waiting times currently being experienced by clients. Staff morale sinks lower still when BBC head office sends out an edict demanding that all employees in the barn reflect on their lackadaisical attitude towards their work. The diktat also inform them that from now on they will all be required to double their current levels of productivity .
But, of course, none of this would ever happen at ‘The Repair Shop’.
Perhaps that’s why I so enjoy watching it.
Perhaps that’s why I find it so uplifting.
Perhaps that’s why I would so love to work there.
Because everything at ‘The Repair Shop’ is just a little less painful.
To read ‘The Repair Shop’, another, more positive, blog comparing Medicine with the television programme, click here
To read ‘Brian and Stumpy Visit the Repair Shop’, a episode of the TV programme with a cricket theme, click here
To read ‘The Dig – it’s well worth it’, click here
To read ‘Hearing the grass grow’, click here
To read ‘The Three Little GPs and the Big Bad Secretary of State for Health’, click here
To read ‘Mr Benn – the GP’, click here
To read ‘A GP called Paddington’, click here
To read ‘On Being Crazy Busy – A Ticklish Problem’, click here
To read ‘Reintroducing GPs Anonymous’, click here
To read ‘On Call Days and Mondays Always Get Me Down’, click here