The sound of the train filled his ears and as it passed he realised that the the vehicle was underneath him, not above. He glanced downwards and saw his own body lying across the track, his severed head had rolled down the embankment and his legs had been amputated above the knees.
‘If that is my body down there…’ He started to panic ‘I’ve been murdered!’ he thought.
He closed his eyes and when he opened them he was sat in a GP waiting room.
‘Welcome to Purgatory Surgery, Open All Hours,’ read the sign above the empty reception area.
‘Jeremy Hunt to Room 4 please, Jeremy Hunt to Room 4 please,’ sounded a deep voice over the tannoy. He picked up his legs and head and hobbled to the room, pushing the door open with his neck.
The sign on the desk read ‘Dr Simon Peter, FRCGP’.
‘So, Mr Hunt, what brings you to this side of eternity?’ asked Dr Peter.
‘Well, can’t you see I’m dead?’ he blurted out.
‘Hmmm. Yes, I can see you have realised that. Do you have any concerns about being dead?’ Dr Peter continued, as he turned to his computer and began filling out a large template.
‘Concerns? Of course I’m concerned. I’m bloody dead!’
‘Any more language like that Mr Hunt and I’ll have you off-listed. Now what were you expecting me to do about your death?’ He turned back to the computer.
‘I have no expectations of death. Look, why am I here?’ asked Hunt.
Dr Peter typed out slowly: ‘Clearly still in denial. I expect him to start bargaining soon.’
He turned slowly back to the dismembered politician.
‘You’re here, because you are dead. It’s now up to me to decide if you can be referred. I’m a gatekeeper, don’t you know?’
‘Referred? What do you mean referred?’ stammered Hunt.
‘To the Great White Building.’
‘Can’t I go private,’ he asked, ‘Or straight to A&E?’
‘There is no two-tier system here,’ snapped Dr Peter. ‘And homeopathy is not going to help reattach your limbs and head either, before you ask.’
‘So, how do you decide if I get referred or not?’ asked Jeremy timidly.
‘Oh, it’s more where you get referred to, Mr Hunt,’ the doctor replied as he turned back to the computer and tapped away ominously at the keys.
St Peter turned back to Hunt: ‘We are trialling a new calculator actually. It’s called ‘Q-Soul’. I simply collate all the data we have gathered over your lifetime, add the information we have discussed here and click on ‘Calculate’. Gives us a simple ‘thumbs up’ or ‘thumbs down’.
‘Ready to find out?’
Thanks to Dr Prit Buttar for inspiration.
Dr Samir Dawlatly is a former secretary of the RCGP’s adolescent health group and a GP in Birmingham