This site is intended for health professionals only

Would you freeze, flee or fight?

There’s little better than a good rant at 10 o’clock at night, glass of wine in hand, to clear the frustrations of the day from my head and set the world to rights (in my dreams at least). So here is tonight’s soap-box proclamation…

Every day we see things that seem illogical, senseless and that make our lives unnecessarily hard. We are bombarded with bureaucratic paper trails and tick boxes that drain our energies and intellects, trying to turn us into virtual automata. We become bound by cultural chains of professionalism, held to our servitude by implied punishments. When overwhelmed by the shear volume of rules and repercussions, nonsense and noxious incentives imposed by the political or NHS overlords, what is your reaction? 

Do you freeze, unable to see any way out of the melée, content to keep your head down and get on with it? You may mutter about your discontent, cry foul play, or direct sarcastic criticism at those you deem responsible. However, hopelessness and helplessness still prevail.

Do you flee, looking for pastures greener, or at least less rotten – to a new practice, to the country, to a different speciality, or to a new continent? You may find your Eldorado, or that the manure just smells different.

Or do you stand and fight, visionary boxing gloves at the ready, prepared to battle for Truth, Justice and the GP Way?

I’ve done all of those: frozen with fear, apathy or pointlessness; run away to a small island full of golden people and no public toilets; and stood to fight, only to find I was in the wrong battle. But stress polarises us, and the innate reaction is to protect ourselves by either building walls and protecting our own little silos, or destroying walls to escape or explore beyond. But in the end, no matter how hopeless the situation seems, we all have choices. Compassion, hope and acceptance of your fellows may be all that is needed to nurture good ideas and the changes that will transform our lot from slaves to the system into masters of our profession.

Alas, for tonight my rant is over and the wine glass is empty. But there is something sweeter –making good on a rant and actually setting the world right, well the local world at least. So tomorrow I will send in my edit of the new trust guidelines for Nurse Verification of Death (See: ‘Why do we not let capable colleagues verify death?’) and attempt to change something for the better. Well, at least I tried…

Dr Cathy Welch is a GP on the Isle of Arran, Scotland