Anyone else get sympathy symptoms? Like when the penny drops that the rash you’re manhandling is actually scabies and suddenly your own skin’s hosting an imaginary chorus line of feverishly-Charlestoning arthropods? This is always happening to me. No sooner do I see a patient limp in with sciatica than my hitherto quiescent bad back gets stiffer than David Cameron watching Charlotte’s Web. Worst of all, though, is the patient who makes me realise that I, too, am ‘tired all the time’.
Most of my adult life has been conducted in varying states of fatigue
Not through some anxiously-Googled hormone imbalance, but because I was up until midnight doing the Docman letters I’d left unfinished in order to get home in time to deliver the nightly fix of Gruffalo that now constitutes the highlight of my social calendar, and then found myself in the gym at 6am in the Sisyphean struggle to offset the several subsequent hours spent sat sedentary listening to people tell me how tired they are.
Thinking about it, most of my adult life has been conducted in varying states of fatigue. Tired of tying up the hospital’s loose ends. Tired of pointless appraisal hoop-jumping. Tired of the constant spectre of litigation. I’m a regular medical Lili Von Shtupp.
It seems that the BMA have cottoned on to this, with a highly-publicised suggestion to cap the number of patients we see in a day. To be honest, actually seeing and treating people is one bit of the job I still have time for, but anything which reduces my workload looks like a good thing right now. What we definitely don’t need is more work.
Which is why I was alarmed to read that, as a GP trainer and educational supervisor, the proposed new junior doctor contract gives me the responsibility to award my hospital-based ST1s extra pay or time off when they find themselves working above their contracted hours. Check it yourself – page 33. I’m not convinced this is going to work: my local hospital don’t even trust me to request an MRI, yet suddenly they’re going to give me control over their juniors’ rotas and payroll? But given the ubiquity of routine unpaid junior overtime, I can easily envisage this new responsibility rapidly spiralling into a huge amount of unfunded extra work, and a further massive pain in my already overtired posterior.
Oh well. At least it’ll give me something to think about the next time someone comes in with piles.
Dr Pete Deveson is a GP in Surrey. You can follow him on Twitter @PeteDeveson