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A day in the life - Dr Pauline Brimblecombe

Preventing life one minute, helping to form it the next, impromptu presentations and a request to 'smooth off rough edges' - it's all part and parcel of Dr Pauline Brimblecombe's working day

Preventing life one minute, helping to form it the next, impromptu presentations and a request to 'smooth off rough edges' - it's all part and parcel of Dr Pauline Brimblecombe's working day

6.15 Abruptly woken by John Humphries. No time for newspapers so Radio 4 is main source of current affairs.

En route to surgery, change into wellies to give the horses their morning feed and dump half a bale of hay into the field to supplement the mainly mud they are left to graze on.

Have a breakfast practice meeting so stop at the bakery for pain au chocolat and still warm granary bread. Arrive at the surgery just as the coffee filters through.

7.30 Brief silence from partners and practice manager as mouths are stuffed with croissant and brains are woken with caffeine. Then 10 minutes of general chat before the main practice business.

Meeting abruptly ends at 10 a.m. for shortened booked surgeries followed by all hands on deck for the acute problem surgery at 11.30 a.m.

12.45 Manage to off load my one visit to my GP trainee with a bribe that it would make a good case based discussion and I promise to complete their eportfolio assessment.

Meanwhile I insert an emergency IUD into an 18-year-old student too late for progesterone-only-emergency -contraception. I take a phone call from a community gynaecology patient who I am treating with clomifene. Her period has not yet come. When I ask if she has done a pregnancy test she says she is too nervous to check.

She has a test in the cupboard so I send her off to do it and to phone me straight back. Within 5 minutes she is back on the phone ecstatic.

For a few minutes I feel very clever and special; preventing life one minute, helping to form it the next. Then I am swiftly brought down to earth by a receptionist. Mr Impossible is complaining about the change of his medication. He has the explanatory letter from the PCT medicine management team but doesn't see why he should be given a cheap drug as he has been paying his taxes for years.

13.30 I briefly look at my emails. There is a lively discussion on the LMC listserver about the extended hours proposal. I have already given my view and received the usual negative responses. Reminds me of my days on the GPC. Despite the often rough ride I was given, I even miss Dr Angry of Milton Keynes. But I especially miss the BMA three course lunches as I bite into my apple. No time for anything else.

14.00 Off to the County Council Oversee and Scrutiny Committee to give evidence on the consultation on the future use of the community hospital.

Am greeted by the PCT CEO and advised that my presentation is crucial. Haven't prepared anything so I disappear into the ladies loo with the Chief nurse for a briefing. Passionate about improving community care for the frail elderly, my words flow easily to the committee. As I notice the first stifled yawn I stop the spiel and answer the councillors questions. The influence of the local GP is still a powerful force. Feedback is positive.

16.00 Drop into the CATCH offices at the PCT to see our PBC business manager and plan the next executive meeting.

17:30 Last meeting of the day is to the SHA. I have a debrief with the Director of Public Health on why I wasn't given the job of Medical director. Would I be prepared to smooth off my rough edges and become corporate? Take me as I am or not at all. So not at all it is to be.

18.15 I phone my husband about dinner. Vegetables about to go off need eating – so a stir fry it is. I stop off at Waitrose for some milk but am greeted in the first aisle by gin 33% extra. I put 2 bottles into my basket and then notice a patient glaring at me. Didn't I lecture her the other day about her drinking habits?

At the check out I am standing behind my local MP who also happens to be the shadow minister of health. We have met a few times at meetings and are on first name terms. Even had a peck on the cheek at Christmas. But votes come from kissing babies not local GPs in your supermarket so we just make the usual pleasantries. I have hidden the gin under the milk and bread.

19.00 At home my husband is on the phone to our son who has just moved to London. He needs some more antibiotics for his skin and wants to know which GPs are open on a Saturday………

21.00 I flop onto the settee to watch some mindless TV. My husband seductively sidles next to me to say that there are some advantages to the kids leaving home.


Dr Pauline Brimblecombe is a GP in Cambridge, a GP trainer, a GPSI in community gynaecology and chair of Cambridgeshire Association To Commission Health (CATCH), a PBC consortium of 30 practices.
She is a former president of the Medical Women's Federation

Dr Pauline Brimblecombe

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