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OOH vote was a sub-turkey moment

Voting for Christmas might be acceptable for wildfowl, but it really shouldn't be for an educated doctor, says Copperfield

Not all that long ago, I blogged that I would rather eat shards of glass, bang nails into my skull and sit on a spike than take back out-of-hours.

Well, now I have serious worries for my oesophagus, my cranium and my rectum – but not as great as the concerns I have about our medicopoliticians' mental health.

Because at this year's LMCs conference, they voted to take on OOH commissioning.

I'll avoid the obvious comment about turkeys voting for Christmas, partly because it's a horrible old cliché but mainly because it's an unfair parallel.

Turkeys may have an IQ only slightly above that of a headless chicken, but they're positively Hawkingesque compared to the LMCs conference delegates who voted ‘yes'.

I just don't get it. Yes, I know they're talking about commissioning and that this is supposed to ‘draw a line' defining where our responsibilities lie.

Hang on, though. As things stand, I have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with OOH – brilliant.

If I start commissioning, then I'm back within touching distance and run the risk of being infected with the whole damn thing. Not so brilliant.

Why take that chance? Maybe the yaysayers are masochists, in which case they can keep their OOH pain to themselves, thanks.

Or maybe they have rescue fantasies, believing that they can come to the salvation of those poor OOH souls who ring us at 3 am because they've misplaced a tampon or can't reach the paracetamol – and they're welcome. Just leave me out of it.

The problem with OOH is twofold.

First, it's grown into a 24/7 monster catering for the whims of the worried-mildly-ill.

And, second, we provided such a cheap and efficient service in the past that it's now grossly underfunded. As one of the e-respondents to the story points out, if the service was adequately financed, we'd have no worries and so no need to take it back. To which I'd add, and if it isn't, then why the hell would we want to touch it?

The LMC vote was so close, and I think the grassroots opinion is so vehemently held, that I reckon we know what we want. It's called a referendum.

Otherwise, I'm going to head towards my nearest medicopolitician, armed with some glass, some nails and a spike. I only hope his local OOH service is good.

'Sick Notes' by Dr Tony Copperfield is out now, available from Monday Books.