Being a petrolhead, I am familiar with the phrase ‘range anxiety’.
For those not yet in the know, it usually applies to owners of electric cars who worry about how far their car will go before the battery goes flat and leaves them stranded. This phenomenon doesn’t apply to cars that run on petrol or diesel, unless you are one of those annoying drivers who insist on running their car on fumes.
My youngest son is a motoring journalist and recently brought home a brand new electric car made by a well-known German company. The drive from London to home was just over 90 miles and the battery only had a capacity for 80, so he experienced an attack of ‘range anxiety’ on the motorway.
Luckily, the designers of his car had resolved its range issues enough to ensure he made it home. But his car was a hybrid – electric, with a tiny conventional petrol engine that won’t drive the wheels but instead recharges the battery.
In theory you could go as far as you wanted in a hybrid, so long as you kept fuel in the tank, thus reducing the risk of developing range anxiety.
While we talked about the performance of this new model, I realised that I had begun to develop my own range anxiety – especially as the road seems mostly uphill these days.
Us older GPs have been in the job for more years than we wish to remember, and we are still good at our jobs. With our years of experience, we can pretty much deal with anything that is thrown at us.
But we now have so many guidelines, protocols and restriction on what we can and can’t do, it’s getting more and more difficult to remember everything. (At least it is for me). How much longer can I keep this up?
The hybrid car my son was testing holds nine litres of petrol in a range-extending fuel tank, which is designed to ensure the fully-charged battery range long enough to get you to your destination (another sixty miles tops).
Personally, I suspect my own ‘fuel tank’ holds less than nine litres and, unless there is a downhill stretch coming fairly soon, my battery is going to run out. (Turns out working ‘smarter, not harder’ only goes so far).
Those in power, be warned: if you truly value GPs then reset the sat nav to ‘most fuel-efficient route’. Ignore our range anxiety and we’ll come to a grinding halt.
Dr Hadrian Moss is a GP in Kettering, Northamptonshire. You can tweet him at @DrHMoss.