Us consultants work on-calls.
In general, these shifts aren’t too onerous; reviewing patients, answering phone calls and the like. We start at eight and remain on site for the next twelve hours, then home with the occasional phone call if the registrar needs advice or support.
Working weekends are the worst.
You start Monday and struggle through to the following Friday.
I tend to be a little zonked by the time I reach the second weekend.
I was on-call last night and this morning after seeing a number of patients on one ward and helping-out on another, I returned to my office for a piece (aka sandwich).
Looking at the clock, there was an hour until my next commitment.
What to do?
Whilst contending with the winter surge in patients, I have been asked to maintain a work diary. This is the first time I have undertaken such an exercise, which to anyone who knows me, likely sees the challenge – not being one for specifics, timing or schedules, let alone the documentation of what I have done; nevertheless, I have been plodding-on, recording when I clock in and out.
It is drudgery, but hey, we are in the 21st century. You can’t be too careful with your doctor.
Anyway, I was a little weary and wondering what to put into my diary for the next hour. I considered some generic paperwork, but I really was quite tired and, I didn’t want to go back to the ward.
In the olden days I would have had a cup of tea with the patients on Mallard – this isn’t an option at the moment, so, instead I went down to check on the tepee.
It has been on site since the weekend and has become something of a sensation – everyone is taking about it.
On the way downstairs I bumped into a former patient who was on her way home; had a quick chat as we wished each other well.
The same, now former patient (when does a patient become a person?) shortly after popped into the tepee to wait for her husband to pick her up.
We talked some more, a little about the tepee, how great the idea for supporting patients and staff, offering something that was away from the rigors of CQC and hospital inspections, deeper than the superficialities of the 7C’s.
Again, I bade my former patient farewell and headed back to my office; on the way I bumped into a professor.
In Rotherham, we only have one professor, so I needn’t say his name.
He was actually at that moment taking a picture of the tepee with his phone, in order to show his wife. We then went back inside.
This became a third conversation with my former patient (person) who had previously been a nurse and worked with the professor back in the 70’s.
They reminisced. Talked about the old times; harsh matrons, stomach acid and high standards. When the managers understood – prof explained that many of them back then were war veterans with a particular outlook and focus.
Then, D, one of the junior doctors popped-in to eat his lunch reminding the prof that he had once supplied him with printer cartridges back in the day, when he worked for a local supplier.
It felt a little like Camberwick Green or perhaps EastEnders; there was a risk, I felt, if I stayed any longer someone would find a family connection.
All this in the comfort of the tepee.
Sure, it isn’t Nirvana.
It is still a hospital and things are happening on the wards, in the clinics; this however gave me a greater insight into the humanity of a building than I have perceived in all the years I have plodded round the wards.
We are all just people who are trying to get-on, to get-by, to find an answer.