Bit of a tough week at work last week.
Not so much watching the increasing struggle GPs face to cope with massive and increasing workload, but watching the way we as society and the fragmented NHS, weakened by lack of budget and staff shortages, are no longer very able to cope with the demands of the cognitively impaired.
Families are separated and you can’t assume that next of kin who live 200 miles away or half a world away are even interested when old uncle Bert, who’s been living quietly on his own for donkey’s years, suddenly goes do-lally.
A Care Plan isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on if there are no social care staff to turn out and one district nurse can’t do the work of the four nurses that used to handle the caseload.
GPs are supposed to co-ordinate while they are seeing routine patients who made appointments two weeks ago, seeing urgent on-the-day patients with everything from suspected meningitis to lumpy testicles and dealing with multiple “oh but it’s urgent because the patient forgot to order and is going on holidays for Easter” queries from pharmacies.
It was all an uncomfortable foretaste of the future, as dementia occurs earlier in peoples’ lives and becomes very common indeed. What’s to be done with those in that perilous state somewhere between confusion and lucidity? They are capable of making the choice to live independently one day but the next day they may not recognise their own front door. The answer is a big fat ‘nothing’ until there is a crisis. This is not satisfactory – for anyone.
But enough of the frustrations and peculiarities of work. Saturday, my second day off, was a lazy day. It was a slow, second mug of tea kind of day. I read about the 17th century Seige of Gloucester – most of those killed got popped off because they put their heads above the parapet to peep at the enemy Royalists. I read about the Life of Colonel Edward Massie, the hero of Gloucester whose name was spelled Massie but in most books and public placards is mis-spelled as Massey. Someone should make a film of his life. It’s got everything – masterminding the defence of Gloucester and paying soldiers with his own money, getting imprisoned in the Tower of London and escaping by climbing out of a chimney and fleeing to the Netherlands – and ending up being given a knighthood and a beautiful estate in Ireland.
The weather was cloudy but fresh. I strolled around the garden followed by Leo and Fat Lily, looking at the red buds bursting on the apple tree and the drops of overnight rain still hanging sparkling from the branches. In the pond, the duckweed proliferates, lime green against the dark murk of the pond. Pretty with irrepressible tendencies. Two frogs sat at the shady end of the pond noses out of the water, covered in duckweed.
At the sunny end of the pond, big blobs of frogspawn had transformed into trembling dark pools of newly hatched tadpoles – hundreds of tiny black streaks. Only a few are advanced enough to be swimming free – the rest are huddling close, absorbing the light and warmth.
I messed about a bit on Twitter catching up with cycling, my favourite punsters and pals and following some interesting links. It always seems such a treat to have the freedom to read properly at the weekend because there is so little time in the week.
Headed to the theatre in Malvern later to see Jeeves and Wooster starring Robert Webb of Peep Show fame. It wasn’t at all what I expected – in fact it surpassed expectations being clever, accomplished and hilariously bonkers. I recommend it wholeheartedly – if only for Robert Webb’s newt impression.
Happy Easter weekend!