Zara Aziz: The benefit of home heating checks

It was a crisp Friday morning. I was nearing the end of my morning surgery, still in my coat and praying for a heatwave.

On my way to the storage cupboard to retrieve some chlamydia swabs, I collided with the heating engineer. He was lurking, Houdini-like, fumbling with the boiler and sweating profusely.

'It looks complicated,' I said, squinting at the strange dials and then at him, sympathetically.

This seemed to draw his attention and he straightened his back.

'Nothing to it, doctor. It's quite simple really,' he replied.

Then he launched into an enthusiastic, long drawn-out explanation - which for the life of me I can't remember any of now - the gist of which was that the boiler pressure was too low (or did he say it was too high?).

After making a hasty escape, I was back in the Arctic confines of my own consulting room and contemplating the discreet theft of an electric heater from the secretaries.

Suddenly I had a brainwave: I would go on an early visit.

I picked my visit carefully from the handful that were available. Betty needed a care plan and could be relied on to have her central heating on at full blast in all seasons.

On arrival at Betty's, I parked myself next to the radiator and felt my bones begin to thaw.

'It's nice and toasty in here. You must have a good boiler,' I remarked.

'Oh yes, I got it through one of those boiler scrappage schemes last year. Are you going to do a heating check?' she replied.

I must have looked slightly worried, because she quickly added: 'They said in the paper GPs will be doing loneliness and heating checks soon.'

'Trust me Betty, you don't want me to do your heating check,' I said.

Back at the surgery, the heating was not fixed - Eddie the engineer was still toiling away in the boiler cupboard - but I was rather more cheery as I started my evening surgery. After all, on my way back from Betty's, I had managed to purchase a hot water bottle from Poundland.

  • Dr Aziz is a GP partner in north-east Bristol.

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