Sorry, I’m a little late to the Fruit and Veg prescription party. Shame, really, because this new form of script really lends itself to, uh, hilarious comments such as, could we get an in-house greengrocer on the ARRS scheme (ha!), can we anticipate fruit and veg guidance via the British National Farmulary (ha ha!) and will patients on prescription season tickets be entitled to an allotment (ha ha ha!)?
It’s almost like it’s been chucked our way as an amusing diversion, in the tradition of exercise, gardening and, er, boilers, on prescription, to distract us from rather more pressing matters. Specifically, the one involving a scary escalation in Covid incidence, and the fact that these cases increasingly include the doubly jabbed.
But it’s fine, apparently. We need cases to surge as we race to achieve herd immunity prior to winter, right? Because that is the unspoken plan, correct? I mean, there is a plan, isn’t there?? Yes??? Anyone????
And also it’s fine because of the vaccine-induced weakening of the link between infection and hospitalisation – which means those symptomatic with Covid will not need to disturb secondary care. Instead, they’ll cough, splutter, wheeze and developing varying degrees of hypoxia in the community, where those exponentially increasing numbers will be looked after by the few remaining GPs not self-isolating.
How are we supposed to cope with this? We’ll also have flu and RSV to contend with, both of which can a) Cause serious illness in themselves and b) Mimic Covid exactly. This in the context of us sorting Covid booster vaccs and the flu jab campaign. And while carrying on with the day job, sorting out the backlog, managing Long Covid etc etc (cut and paste any recent Copperfield litany of woe-kload at this point).
This is seriously unsustainable. And I can’t stomach the reflex response that all we need to do is make sure that general practice is adequately resourced, because I haven’t got the will or energy to bid for another pot of dosh to fund someone who probably isn’t available and who we don’t have space to accommodate anyway.
Instead, something has to give: either some of our routine work has to go, or 111 has to become the explicitly mandated first point of call for autumn and winter respiratory ills. Simple. Otherwise, at my age, that NHS-subsidised allotment starts to look irresistible. Which reminds me, I need to sort my legumes – can you do me an FPea-10? Ha ha ha ha.
Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex. Read more of Copperfield’s blogs at http://www.pulsetoday.co.uk/views/copperfield