Pulse’s surreal blog Through the K hole offers a dystopian vision of life after the White Paper
It was a little before 8 o’clock.
He liked to arrive nice and early and would usually make a start by trawling through the shoals of hospital letters and blood results that washed his way. He stood outside his consulting room door and fumbled for his keys but to his surprise it was already partly open. He wondered if the cleaners had forgotten to lock up behind them. He pressed against the door and it arced into the gloom.
As he stepped inside he froze, his mouth opening into a disbelieving ink spot that punctuated the space between them. In front of him, sitting behind his desk and wearing a dark managerial suit, was his mirror image. He had come face to face with himself.
The imposter was reading through official-looking papers and hadn’t noticed him. He was identical in every way but seemed colder, more aloof, more distant somehow. And when he did look up there was no recognition on his face – instead he appeared angry and burst past him, forcing him against the rough grain of the doorway.
He felt uneasy, his sense of self became mosaicised, nauseously fragmented. He went to the sink to splash some cold water onto his face. As he dried himself with a paper towel he was reassured by the familiar surroundings. It was the same room after all, the room that he had known for the past twenty years since becoming a partner. It had the same musty smell, the same mahogany desk and the same banker’s lamp.
There were subtle changes though, his shelves were bare and all of his clinical books had been taken down, his medical equipment had been squeezed into boxes and he noticed that his hospital correspondence had been twisted into tight white coils and lay in the waste bin like paper turds.
Fanned out over the desk were unfamiliar booklets that spoke of management, funding structures, service re-organisation and commissioning. They were shot-gunned through with jargon. There were handfuls of words, scattered like linguistic seed over the dry paper fields, but as he flicked through he saw that none of them had anything to do with his patients.
He climbed the stairs. The imposter stood with his back to him and appeared to be in deep conversation with the practice manager. Eventually his double turned to face him and with an insolent, sneering expression took him roughly by the arm. He was pulled down the stairs two at a time, through the waiting room and out onto the street.
He was alone, forced out of his own practice and no longer able to serve his patients. He understood that transforming his professional role and taking on the new responsibilities would benefit no-one.
As he stood and watched he could see his new manager’s mien passing by the bright windows, his head buried in the sands of a different world. His personality, his motives, his incentives, his very being had been deeply corrupted.
Eventually, as the silver eyelash moon of early morning began to fade and as the traffic began to stir, the bright welcoming lights of his practice went out; one by one.
Dr Kevin Hinkley is a GP in Aberdeen.