Dr Zara Aziz: Let's not make a drama out of a crisis

I was even more sprightly than usual on my way to work on the Tuesday after Easter. After all, it was either work or a psych ward to escape the munchkins.

School was still out and the twins were gracing their beds, while the baby (aka Attila the Hun) was busy cooking his teddies. All was well, until I remembered I was on call.

The prospect of being on the receiving end of patient wrath (having been denied doctor cover for four days) checked my steps, as I made my way through the eerily quiet carpark to the half-empty waiting room.

'I would go home now if I were you,' said the receptionist. Had the computers crashed or the telephones stopped working? A horrific thought popped into my mind - had the CQC come to call, when I was pretty sure I had left a half-eaten packet of cheese and onion crisps in my desk drawer?

Luckily, it hadn't. The basement was flooded, leaving us without water and - worse still - loos. 'I think we should shut up shop,' suggested one of my colleagues, cheerfully.

'Or we could use a pail of water for handwashing and just see the "urgents"?' proposed another. This was met with glares. 'Good idea,' I said, hastily. After all, Attila and I needed some time out to rediscover our mutual fondness.

An hour later, I was sailing through morning surgery, a novel experience. Every patient was triaged for urgency. Our enterprising receptionist had even found some water to make coffee.

'You'll need to do a urine sample in this pot,' I told a patient who had demanded an immediate appointment for a UTI. She returned a minute later. 'Where can I, um, do it?'

'At home?' I suggested. 'But I live miles away,' she said. 'Is there nowhere else I can use?' I wouldn't recommend the toilets in the nearby park to Jeremy Hunt, let alone patients. I shook my head, apologetically. 'It's like third world sanitation here,' she grumbled under her breath. 'That's why I always say practice boundaries exist for a reason,' I muttered, even more quietly.

  • Dr Aziz is a GP partner in north-east Bristol. If you are interested in writing a column for GP, please email sarah.wild@haymarket.com.

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