Zara Aziz: Why I try to steer clear of hospitals

As a general rule, I always do my best to steer clear of hospitals, if I can possibly help it.

Like many another GP, I have lots of fanciful assumptions of what it's really like to be a hospital doctor in our modern-day NHS.

Some of my assumptions are based on what my patients and trainees tell me, but others are mostly gleaned from what the papers say.

'How are you feeling, doctor?', asks Jack breezily, despite having been kept waiting quite some time for his appointment.

He settles himself into the worn seat by my desk and deposits a well-thumbed copy of the Daily Mail next to the thermometer.

I eye him (and the newspaper) rather warily and straighten my spine (which is no mean feat, as it has been becoming progressively more kyphotic over the course of the day). 'Fine, thanks,' I reply.

'Are you sure, doc? It looks terribly busy out there. They're not all waiting to see you, are they?'

'I should certainly hope not,' I reply, in feigned alarm. 'So Jack, how did you get on at the surgical outpatient clinic last week? Will they be listing you for gall bladder surgery?'

'I can't quite remember what happened that day; it was all a bit of a blur,' he admits.

'I was having a lot of tummy pain and I told the doctor that, but he seemed very busy and didn't examine me. Anyhow I got home and the missus said I looked like death and called an ambulance. They kept me in for a week on drips and all. I got this for you.'

He handed me the discharge letter. Pancreatitis: the diagnosis leapt off the page at me.

'And I thought you'd brought me the Daily Mail as a present,' I joked.

'That too,' he said, slipping a neat cutting of an article headlined 'Why I fear GPs are part of the NHS's problem, not the solution' out of his pocket.

'I think he's wrong, you know, this professor. How can all doctors be the same? The missus said I should complain about that clinic doctor. He made a mistake. He came to see me on the ward, you know, and he apologised. Personally, I think he was having a bad day.'

'And we can all have one of those,' I admitted.

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

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