Day in a Life: Dr Richard Scott
Dr Richard Scott talks about life after cancer, faith in general practice, and work as a missionary
Name Dr Richard Scott
Location Margate, Kent
Hours worked per week 33
Qualified as a GP 1998
Best thing about the job Working alongside my wife, and experiencing the spiritual aspects of medicine
Worst thing about the job Government interference, and the imposition of unhelpful targets and protocols
I’m woken up at 6.30am when my wife Heather gets up. My prayer partner Andy arrives an hour later, and we take 20 minutes to catch up on everything before we pray. In the meantime, my wife leaves for work and my youngest goes off to school, which reminds us to pray for our families as well as projects and churches we’re involved in.
In the mornings, the majority of my consultations are taken over the telephone. I started this two years ago, so it doesn’t matter if I’m a tad late because at least the punters won’t be kept stewing in the waiting room.
The morning list reveals some familiar names of patients who are keen to see me following my return from nearly a year off for cancer treatment. I was initially concerned that their good wishes would prolong consultations. But they don’t, and as smiles beam my way I do my best to reflect them back in equal measure. Coming back wasn’t that difficult because it feels like I’d never really been away - I was always popping into the surgery to show my face and answer emails.
This morning I see one of patients who’s a drug addict newly out of prison. He tells me that this time things will be different. For now he is still off heroin, so we come to an arrangement over medication before I encourage him to live the life he signed up for when he was baptised in our church. Incarceration can often lead to prisoners getting back with God. The challenge, however, is to continue following a life of faith on the outside.
Little has changed since I’ve been off work. As prescribing lead, I nag my colleagues not to prescribe escitalopram - but not too much, as I need their support in my coming appraisal.
I hand over a tenner to a desperately thin man of my age with chronic mental ill health. His electricity had run out. Around the same time I notice that Heather has seen one of my patients for me, an addict we both know who 19 weeks’ pregnant and seeking an abortion.
Heather and I chat over coffee. I discover that the pregnant patient had needed money to get to Marie Stopes. On balance, we agree to help her.
A patient telephones me in pieces. I’d never seen her so sad. With a wedding planned and paid for in America, she’d never foreseen her partner’s sudden disappearance on Boxing Day in her car. In such a situation, medical professionalism is essential and empathy helps, and given that she had faith she allowed me to pray for her.
The morning finishes with two elderly home visits. One I’d predicted was unnecessary – an elderly lady who’d self-prescribed respite care after a chest infection.
With lunch and my nap over, an afternoon off allows me to attack my list of jobs. Visiting the dump and Tesco are easy, but answering emails about safety in Liberia proved more tricky.
With much experience of mission work in the UK and abroad, I’m confident that our upcoming medical mission to Saclepea, eight hours from the capital Monrovia, will go well but it’s the first time I’ve worked in what remains of a war zone. I find out what I can from our host Daada, a Liberian evangelist working in London.
I take myself out for a jog, but chemo-induced shortness of breath and a calf injury mean I don’t manage much of a run today. I give myself 3/10 for my performance. I run a bath and think about what to say when I have to make an address in church tonight.
I attend my weekly extended hours’ surgery - four patients in an hour, after the PCT decided 10-minute slots were no longer enough. The surgery’s aimed at workers - pleasantly non-stressful and allows me to get to church on time. Sometimes I offer to take a patient with me, although the last time I forgot and left him in the waiting room. Oops.
I eat dinner at church, attend the service, clean up and head home to watch a David Attenborough documentary.