Guest Columnist Dr Faye Kirkland - Braving the weather and getting chills

Looking out of my window before beginning morning surgery, the pummelling rain and high winds mean the street is empty.

People occasionally run from one side to the other, holding on to their hats as they go.

Three patients don't attend their morning appointments, a rate much higher than normal. The weather seems to have a direct relationship with appointments.

As the rain pools in the corner of the roads, I notice the number of visits steadily increasing in the corner of my computer screen.

I take the five home visits allocated to me and prepare to do battle with the weather.

The beautiful beach of this coastal town has been covered by crashing waves. I arrive at the first patient's house. I hear the clatter of a walking frame on a laminate floor and an elderly woman slowly opens the door.

Not eligible for home care from social services, no family nearby and not wanting help at home, she hasn't been able to get out for food.

Three visits later and I'm on the home straight. A younger patient has asked to be seen at home, which is pretty unusual. I'm greeted by a cheery man who's started to cough. I sit in the cigarette smoke-filled living room. After examining him and discussing the viral nature of his illness, not helped by his smoking, I explore his health-seeking behaviour and his request for a home visit.

He shyly says he didn't want to venture outside and catch another cold. A myth I hear repeated all too often, so I try to dispel this and hurry back for afternoon surgery.

In my haste, a gust pulls the umbrella out of my hand and takes it swirling down the street. Left with little protection from the elements, I get back to the surgery dripping wet and create a mini flood of my own on the reception floor. A patient walks in and sees me standing there and with laughter in his voice, says: 'You'll get a chill like that.'

Realising this isn't the time to debate the lack of evidence for this comment, and how ridiculous I look, my frustrated smile erupts into laughter.

  • Dr Kirkland is a GP in Bristol. If you are interested in writing a column for GP, please email

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