At two minutes to eight this morning I made my way round the corner to the surgery. I decided something needs to be done about (Censored) and a visit to the nurse was required. The present system used by the surgery to obtain an appointment is simple, turn up at eight in the morning and be first in the queue! The surgery has far too many patients because this town keeps growing and growing and this is the best doctors around. As far as I know no new patients are being admitted here. However I had to join the queue standing outside the building as the door had not yet been opened and there were at least twenty people standing in the cold draught shivering. The usual grumbles for aged relics who consider they ought to be treated better than this were heard, "Third world doctors" was one. "My Alf says that and he knows, he was in Nigeria for seven years," says another. I mused on the highly efficient and helpful staff at the surgery, the expensive modern equipment, the staff attitude itself and mentally compared this to a Nigerian hospital. In spite of 82% of heat there in Lagos I think I would prefer our staff here thanks very much. The disgraceful approach of the Conservative Party in attempting to turn the NHS, the greatest thing the UK has ever produced, into an American style insurance theft health service is the only problem we have in our NHS. Ideology will not fix the problems better management and sensible policies will enable the NHS to run smoothly but these will not be tolerated under a Tory government, money, not people comes first there!
The queue made its way indoors and queued in some degree of warmth. One lass at reception handled the queue, firmly and kindly in my opinion, while the other dealt with the many attempting to book an appointment by telephone, only one line being open! Slowly but surely people were dealt with, some smiling happily and taking seats near the appropriate office, others grumbling, snarling and decidedly not chuffed. Of course such people could pay to go private and always get an appointment and anything else they are stupid enough to pay for but I prefer to queue like everyone else in the country and give regard to the purpose of the NHS. One man coughed incessantly throughout causing dirty looks, expressions of disgust and shuffling feet attempting to avoid him but I carried on anyway. Old wifies struggled to stand leaning on their walking sticks, young men listened to rubbish music quietly on their ipods others just suffered the indignity of having to wait your turn in a manner unknown in some countries. I noticed a pile of magazines three copies wide and about two foot high on the table. Sunday colour supplements, women's gossip mags and the occasional kids book lay among them. I wondered if there was actually anything worth reading in that pile of magazines? I also wondered how many bugs had been left on the pages by all those sick people who had been rifling through them while waiting for their name to be called. Somewhere in that pile were sufficient virii to keep this surgery busy for years to come, I declined to browse them. When as a lad I was taken to our doctor in Edinburgh I was very unhappy that the only magazines on offer were 'Golf' or the 'Edinburgh Illustrated News' and 'Tatler.' These magazines full of pictures of the great and the good fiddling taxes and taking backhanders while attending 'charity' functions in town did not appeal then and do not appeal now. I much preferred the barbers in Davidsons Mains up the road from us he provided old 'National Geographic' magazines dated 1932. As a child of nine or ten I liked these as they contained black and white photos of half naked black women and these interested me though I was not sure why. I may go back one day and see if he is still open.
The man in front of me reached the desk as the sun began to shine on the trees outside and not unnaturally he had a query that took time to organise, why me I ask? My turn came and quickly it was dealt with by the efficient
On the way back from Tesco I wondered at my ability to buy big things all at the same time. This means the one bag I possess (one of those 'bag for life' jobs that last around three months if they don't rip) was not big enough for all I wish to place therein. How come I buy them all at once and not in a sensible manner? My packing ability is great I need not tell you but even I struggled this morning as the half dim lassie looked on unhelpfully. Normally the girls here are awake, friendly and efficient, this was a bad day for this one. Just imagine what it must be like sitting facing customers in such a place day after day? Could you cope with this? The slow, the banal, the mentally dead, the occasional zombie and worse still the retired man who has all day to gossip about nothing and happily holds up the queue while he laughs and jokes as he packs his three items. Dealing with these daily could lead me into speaking 'out of turn.' There is also the fiddling with cards and change, the women who stand there reading the bill checking every price instead of getting out of others way, the one woman who notes a mistake and calls for the manager, usually over three or four pence. And then there is the managers, in this company they are not always sweetness and light according to those in the know. Most supervisors here are good but watching some of the bitchy women managers and noting our own recent problems I can see one or two in this shop reaching high up the corporate ladder, however what they find there will not satisfy them I reckon. I prefer my little shop where the customers and staff are better behaved.
When I returned to the surgery for my appointment to see about (Still Censored) the nurse was as welcoming as always.
"Sit!" she ordered, I sat.
I said my piece.
"Bah! Is that all?"
She spat this out while holding a huge hypodermic needle and looking at my arm with a fielding expression. She typed into the computerised system, gave instructions and mentioned somewhat obliquely the idea of cutting of my legs from below the knee.
"Was this a requirement?" I asked aghast.
"No," she replied, "But it would be a giggle."
Grasping the prescription I made for the door.
"It's locked," she grinned fiendishly.
My experience of nurses in previous employments came back to me at this moment and I left via the window, something I had much training for in times past.
I may have to go back in two weeks...