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Bring in the tea ladies!

A bucket list doesn’t have to wait until you disappear cackling into the sunset brandishing your hard-earned lump sum. That’s why I’ve developed a pre-retirement wish list which I want to sign off before finally hanging up my stethoscope.

Goals include successfully diagnosing a case of Addison’s disease, getting through an entire Monday morning without issuing a prescription, and announcing over the waiting room tannoy, ‘You’re just a bunch of timewasting f**kwits and you can sod off back home,’ which I’ll probably save for that much anticipated last surgery.

Anyway, I’ve just thought of another to add to the list. Let me introduce you to our tea lady: she’s the most popular person in the health centre, on account of the fact that she makes tea. But there’s so much more to her than that. She does coffee, too. My idea specifically involves her, and captures the zeitgeist of radical thinking, improving skill-mix and enhancing patient access in the context of increasing pressure and a recruitment crisis, yada yada.

You can probably see where this is going: I’m going to get our tea lady to do a locum for me. Just to see if it’s possible. Look, seriously, what’s the worst that could happen? She could sit quite serenely through an average day duty randomly doling out pre-signed prescriptions, blood test forms and X-ray requests, and no one would notice the difference. The punters will love her sunny disposition and easy manner. I’ll just tell her to say ‘yes’ to everything, and if the going gets tough, she can always offer them a cuppa.

Look, I’m not stupid. We could only pull off this stunt for a limited time before it might backfire. A week, maybe. Or a month. Six months at a push. I genuinely think we could get away with it, though. We’ll be blazing a trail. And it’s a natural enough progression through nurse practitioners, pharmacists and physician assistants. The tea lady represents the only existing unchartered noctor territory. Until now.

But remember, I’m doing this for the bucket-list buzz. I’m absolutely not trying to make some point about political interference, the mindless deconstruction of the GP role, compromised patient safety, the steady erosion of gate-keeping, the denigration of our profession, reckless cost-cutting and the covert and dangerous replacement of front line GPs with people who don’t know what the f**k they’re doing. Just to make that clear.

I’ll let you know how it goes. As for medicolegal worries, come off it – who’s going to complain about a tea lady? Mind you, the tea was a bit cold this morning.

Dr Tony Copperfield is a jobbing GP in Essex