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Make do and mend

I’m feeling well and truly chuffed with myself this week because I’ve saved the partnership over £600.

Like many practices, we use a patient call-in system: a simple click of the mouse and the patient is called from the waiting room to the my doorOurs has been running flawlessly for more than 12 years, it’s all very simple and it means the patient does the walking, rather than me – that was, until a few weeks ago when one of our boards failed. 

Me and my colleagues had to walk to the waiting room every ten minutes, all day – and it’s quite embarrassing when you have to mumble an unpronounceable surname to a group of patients you don’t recognise.

Our patient call-in boards date back to 2002 and are way beyond their warranty period. A quick call to the manufacturer gave us two options: post it back and they would try and fix it (for an extortionate fee), or buy a new one for thousands of pounds. I decided to try a third option and had a look on eBay. But the even cheapest secondhand one board was £600.

Then I had a flash of inspiration. These boards are pretty simple and they really shouldn’t go wrong. The most likely component to fail would be the power supply. After all, they are left switched on 24 hours a day, every day. In fact, over the last 12 years our boards will have clocked up more than 100,000 hours of activity. 

A quick check with a multimeter confirmed my theory, and a perusal of some online electronics suppliers led to a next-day delivery of a new power supply. Hey presto, fixed!

Total cost: £52 and a hour of my time. Now that is what I call value for money.

So, if any other practices out there has a similar problem, check the power supply before ditching the whole board. Or better still, give me a call, my rates are very reasonable…

Dr Hadrian Moss is a GP in Kettering, Northamptonshire. You can tweet him at @DrHMoss.