Monday, 4 January 2010

Winter in Northernshire and a new decade.

Today saw a change in the working practices of one of the team here at ND Central as for the first time in decades they did not do the “something for after the weekend” Monday morning surgery. This was due to changes in personnel circumstances and illness within the Practice that meant certain days in the week were less well covered. So like many GP Practices we had to think and adapt the way in which we operate to cover need.

This meant for one of us, instead of being stuck in traffic after more snow on the ground, competing for road space with mothers whose faces were intently shouting at the back seat: “Tarquin will you stop hitting Chantelle with tha Nintendo I am trying to concentrate” seconds before they plough into a line of stationary traffic which “stopped too quick and me eyes was on the road honest officer” we were stuck at home.

An unusual experience not going into work on a Monday (apart from Bank Holidays) for the first time in one’s long working life. Still we did not sit idle as we had plenty of paperwork to do.

At about 10.00hrs we took the dogs for their walk in daylight, not darkness, bright winter sunshine with a brilliant blue sky and no clouds to be seen. There was no traffic noise and the huge blue dome above the thin sprinkling of white newly fallen slow crunching under our boots made Monday feel so much better than normal even though it was minus 4.5 degrees C.

What struck us as we walked was the silence broken only by the noise of jets visible via their vapour trials above us and the crunching of the snow under our boots. At this time of year you realize how many aircraft are above us in the UK but most of the time, because of cloud and wind, you do not see and may only just hear them. Today we counted 8 aircraft in the sky at high altitude at once. Some were flying North to South (or vice versa) or West to East (or vice versa).

All incredibly ordered and the only thing disturbing the silence of a Christmas card perfect winter scene. We thought if there were say for the sake of argument 450 passengers on each plane then above us could be a total of 3600 people en route to various destinations. And this was being repeated every 10 minutes or so as the first planes left our view and were replaced by others following the same directions albeit on slightly different flight paths.

This meant in the course of our hour long walk and according to our mental mathematics that 21600 people had past over our heads in an hour. More than twice the size of our Practice and anyone of which could have been the victim of a terrorist attack.

Scary thinking on a free Monday morning but like all good grunts on the ground we just get on with life aware that life is not a risk free phenomena.

Tomorrow we will not be so lucky. We will be in the morning rush hour with the Shazas driving Tarquins to school. There will be ice on the road and idiots who know that the stopping distance at 80mph on a dry road is 8 feet on ice it is the same. (Stopping distances on snow and ice can be 10 time the normal “8 feet” dear reader).

So while we considered the empty and silent Northenshire winter countryside we felt small but at peace. Does anyone wonder why GPs increasingly opt for early retirement?

After this unique Monday, many more of which may/may not be coming our way, we can see why.

Praise be to the Party whose dedication to finally providing GPs with an occupational health “service” is matched only by its desire to make medicine more and more unsafe while making flying “safer”.

Body scanners at airports, but not for local hospitals (unless by charitable donation), restricting pilots’ hours while increasing GPs and junior doctors, will they be doing the same for the NHS as they do for aviation?

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