I had just finished the morning duty surgery when my routine was interrupted. The phone rang.
‘Hello, is that Dr Dawlatly?’
‘Yes, can I help?’ I answered tepidly. The caller’s voice was slimy, efficient and overly polite.My hackles were rising. I knew already that something was up.
‘Good. Glad to have caught you. You GPs are soooo busy these days. I’m calling about the practice inspection the other week. It took place on Tuesday. You don’t work Tuesdays, do you, Dr Dawlatly?’
‘No, I don’t work Tuesdays,’ I answered, ‘is that anything to do with the quality of the care I provide?’
The clock was ticking. I’d soon be too hungry to do my home visit. As a creature of habit I preferred to get the visits out of the way so I could enjoy eating my sandwiches whilst checking pathology results.
‘I never said that,’ slimed the voice, ‘though it may go some way to explain the standard of cleanliness and tidiness in your room.’ She paused (for effect, I imagine).
‘I had no idea that tidiness was correlated to clinical ability,’ I replied, proud that I had managed to think that one up.
Striking while the iron was hot, I added: ‘And I do believe godliness is next to cleanliness, not, er, erm, doctorness…’ I tailed off.
‘We have standards, Dr Dawlatly. Standards that must be adhered to.’ The slime was getting sharper, sharp slime, like a pulverised lemon. ‘We found two pairs of shoes in your cupboard-‘
‘There are child locks on the cupboards!’ I interjected.
She carried on regardless.
‘-And there was an untold amount of detritus in between the keys of your keyboard. Do you take lunch at your desk, Dr Dawlatly?’
I took a bite of my sandwich, ‘No, of course not,’ I mumbled.
‘Mmm, sounds like you are eating right now. Please swallow and stop!’
I didn’t feel like eating anymore anyway.
She continued: ‘Now, Dr Dawlatly, I haven’t come to the worst of it. Your drawers…’
‘My drawers?’ I started.
‘Your drawers are in a state. They are full of stationery and medical equipment, folders and sharp objects like paper clips. You even have a pair of scissors.’
‘And how does that affect my ability to care for patients?’ I repeated, somewhat feebly.
‘That is beside the point. I shall continue. Your chair seat has not got a wipe-clean cover and accompanying cleaning rota…’ She barked.
‘I have been dry by day since the age of two?’ I offered quietly.
Her voice rose to a shriek.
‘Silence, fool! What if a child were to suck on the fabric of chair?’
I pinched myself to check I was awake. Unfortunately, I was.
Dr Samir Dawlatly is a GP in Birmingham. This blog is not based on real events.