I’m going to have to stop you right there. Without the correct documentation, you can proceed no further with this column, and I shall have to arrest you. Do you have at least English O level grade C, or equivalent? Have you completed the ‘Moving and handling a mouse (electronic, not furry)’ module, or ‘Paper cut avoidance’ if you’re reading the print edition? Have you achieved ‘Irony awareness’ level 12?
Only because you’ve completed all of the above is it reasonable for me to assume that you understand I’m going to write about that notorious vaccine volunteer checklist. You know, the one that documents the training mandated before retired medics are deemed safe to know which end of a Covid vaccine to stick into a deltoid. There are either 18 or 21 items required in total (sources: BMJ or Daily Mail, respectively, and I know which I believe).
You probably think this is ridiculous, yet this health and safety-fest does contain a grain of sense. After all, I’ve already had a daughter so furious that her elderly parents were kept waiting for half an hour in sub-zero temperatures at the local Covid vaccination centre that she threatened to burn the whole place down. So thank goodness for my fire safety and adult-safeguarding badges, and in particular my Conflict resolution level 1 training (‘I’m sorry, and I do understand, but we were so short of fridge space that we thought we’d try freezing the patients rather than the vaccine’).
This bonkeaucracy could be stopped with the slash of a politician’s pen, of course – and might well have been by the time you read this. And as it merely echoes what we regular frontline workers have to tolerate every year, then one positive legacy of Covid might be the inoculation of so-called mandatory training with some common sense at last.
In the meantime, we have to content ourselves with a delicious irony – which, as we’ve already established, you’re qualified to appreciate. And it’s this: on the one hand, we are assumed to be unfit for our day job unless we provide evidence of updates on radicalisation, diversity et al; on the other, there’s the expectation that we can take on the role of hospital consultants and public health specialists without any further training/checking whatsoever.
Thus, in the past week, I’ve been asked to manage acutes I’d normally have admitted, treat ongoing problems I’d usually have referred, consider running Covid virtual wards, risk assess a nursing home in the throes of a Covid outbreak and even attend the wards of the local hospital to see who I think might be fit for discharge.
All of which is fine, actually, up to a point. We GPs love rising to a challenge and this is, after all, medicine in wartime. But I do wish people would make their bloody minds up. Are we GPs magicians who can conjure up overnight whatever skills are required, or morons who need an annual update to remind us not to put our licked fingers in the plug socket?
If whoever makes these decisions is having trouble making up their mind, might I suggest ‘Sense of proportion’ training, level 147?
Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex. Read more of Copperfield’s blogs at http://www.pulsetoday.co.uk/views/copperfield
This piece originally appeared in the February print issue of Pulse