This site is intended for health professionals only


I need a holiday from holidays



Good God, Carruthers! The heat, the heat!’

This is a sentence I have found echoing around my mind over the past few days.
I remember it as something that one bloke in baggy It Ain’t Half Hot Mum shorts and a white pith helmet said to another bloke in baggy shorts and another white pith helmet, standing in a plastic jungle, probably at a kids’ film show at the Hartlepool Odeon one Saturday morning in the early 1970s (25p admission with a free packet of Jelly Tots) and I admit I can’t find it on the internet. Maybe all those Tarzan films haven’t been uploaded even now. One can probably see why.

But up here in the North-East, I can understand the sentiment. We don’t live here for the climate (it’s mainly the cheap housing and the beer). We’re not seeking a natural tan. Sun loungers don’t feature heavily at B&Q in Sunderland, and the Hawaiian Tropic range at the chemist’s occupies four inches of shelfspace well behind the dandruff shampoo.

But here we are – pale, etiolated and cringing under a blazing sun. ‘What is that big white hot thing up there?’ a punter of mine might ask. ‘It’s making me skin go tingly! Normally I have to visit Tanfastic! on the high street to get that sort of effect.’

Inevitably, the hot weather bleeds into the GP surgery. ‘I’m off on holiday, doctor. Can I have some of those tablets for prickly heat, and Kyle needs some of that suncream we got before’. I check on the computer and, yes, Kyle got some of that suncream before (not from me, I should stress extremely strongly). WHY?? Why on earth is the NHS funding suncare products for ginger sprogs? Just don’t put these objectionable objects in direct sunlight, and then the problem is not one for the taxpayer. But factor 50 is available on FP10, it’s been given before, and now they want it again. Banging my head on the desk, slowly and rhythmically, doesn’t put them off.

Spaniards are, in my experience, a bunch of miserable, antisocial gets. I have no idea why this should be; they have a lovely climate, great food, enormous EU subsidies, and millions of Brits spending thousands of millions of pounds every year, but that doesn’t seem to lift their furrowed-browed depression. They bloody well need cheering up. Our cheery, bare-chested, tattooed countrymen and countrywomen do their best in Ibiza and Majorca, shagging openly on every beach, but for some reason the Spanish don’t get the joke.

They take subtle revenge by tipping a demijohn of chlorine into the pool just before the Club 21-30 rep arrives, but not bothering again until the end of the season, rendering the pool a toxic bacterial soup by September.

My patients know this. ‘Four holidays in a row my kids have got ear infections, doctor. Can I have the drops now to save time?’ It’s hard to dispute the logic, other than asking why they take them there in the first place.

The NHS funds the healthcare, by default,
in these lazy-arsed Mediterranean lunchtime slumberfests of alleged European powerhouses.

Me? I’m off to Canada. At least everyone there is British, sort of. See you when I get back.

Dr Phil Peverley is a GP in Sunderland.