A Word In Your Ear with Roy Edmonds

Remember that old joke about a man visiting his GP? “Not seen you for a while,” the doctor says, so the man answers, “No, I’ve been well.”

Thursday, 14th October 2021, 12:30 pm

Those were the days, when you could see a doctor if feeling ill or worried. Even those nosey medical receptionists were, in retrospect, comparatively caring. Today you’re greeted by a busy assistant with their head in a computer or, even, just the computer itself – sending messages to your mobile health ‘app’.

Trouble is, that’s not really enough and doesn’t always help or reassure. Recently, I sent – as requested – phone photos of a mole-like growth on my shoulder. A doctor (we never get the same one) rang eventually and said it looked benign but, worryingly, suggested I come in for a rare face-to-face consultation.

A week later I did that, only to be told there’d been a mishap with the system – I’d be getting another phone consultation later. Not much solace there. It’s about as reassuring as when I did actually see a live doctor, well before Covid, and we were chatting about my arthritic hip as he also stared into his computer.

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“Anyway, you’re going in for an operation next week, aren’t you?” he said.

“News to me,” I responded, impressed at the speed of arrangements but also alarmed.

“Ah, no, sorry,” he corrected himself, adding, “I’ve got the wrong patient up on my screen. Now, how did that happen?”

How indeed? But, we find, the mistakes just keep coming. It’s giving me anxiety – I was fine before all this!

However, I picked up the newspaper the other day to read another worrying front-page headline, ‘2,000 patients for every doctor!’

Who’ll call first, I wondered. The doctor, or that Grim Reaper?

(Roy’s books are published by FeedARead.com Publishing, sponsored by the British Arts Council. Also available on Kindle from Amazon and at Waterstones.)

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