This site is intended for health professionals only


Meet the elephants in my room



I don’t know if you saw the elephant statues in London recently, as fundraisers for conservation? Well a few have come to work with me. Let me introduce you to them.

First is Dee Haich – she’s large and bubblegum pink. She likes bling and has a tattoo on her trunk. Whenever a bull elephant is talking about new ideas she gives him the come-on. She likes the sound of her own voice trumpeting her achievements.

Trouble is she doesn’t do much that is useful and leaves a lot of waste that is toxic and expensive to get rid of.

Then there’s RahShia N’ing. He’s large too, and hard to get the measure of. Sometimes he is a pleasant light grey, and others he’s as dark as the starless sky. What’s really off-putting, though, is that sometimes he’s really solid, and at others he’s almost transparent.

He’s not averse to stomping loudly around like Dee Haich. Again it is hard to see what he really does in life. I reckon he and Dee Haich used to be an item. I wish he’d be consistent.

My favourite, though, is the baby of the outfit, CeCea Gee. He’s small enough to sit on my desktop and, like Elmer the Patchwork Elephant from the children’s story, is like a multi-coloured quilt.

He’s really fun and scuttles back and forth across the desktop fetching and carrying things, sorting difficult referrals, finding useful services and getting professionals to work together. He’s a real help.

So my consulting room is pretty crowded these days. Oh for the days when there was space.

The herd together

What is odd, though, is how they react together. When the Summary Care Record was announced, Dee Haich was even more loud and larger than usual, nearly filling the whole room. 

When my PCT announced that Procedures of Low Clinical Value would no longer be funded, RahShia N’ing was a very pleasant grey and really solid, squashing Dee Haich and CeCea Gee into the corner.

When Andrew Lansley declared a listening pause, CeCea Gee jumped into the sink and splashed water over himself and us because he was so excited.

But it’s odd. When it was revealed that just 89 patients had registered for the 24/7 patient email facility, Dee Haich became really quiet and tried to hide.

She was ill for days when it was announced that £79m was lost on flu vaccines because nobody knew if they were stored correctly. CeCea Gee hooted with laughter and poked fun at her.

Their behaviour at the walk-in centre last week was odd, too. A patient came in worried about the liquid that runs out of him at the gym. He got upset and said he had a right to be seen.

Dee Haich got very loud and pink at that point. When I told him it was sweat and he shouldn’t waste our time she shut up and RahShia N’ing was the blackest I’ve ever seen him. CeCea Gee shrank and lay quivering. I thought he was dead.

The best, though, was when they came to our GP commissioning group. CeCea Gee got really excited and big when the nice prescribing man said we’d saved £5,000 on prednisolone EC to prednisolone switches.

When we had 60 consultants in the same room as 30 GPs talking about patient care he nearly bounced clean out the window.

Sadly, all three come up for auction for the charity soon. I know which one I’m bidding on.

Dr Martin Allen is a GP in Birmingham