I’m not very good at being sick. Don’t get the practice, you see.

England’s not a fun place to get sick, as I found out a few years ago during the great morris dancing calf muscle insurance giggle ordeal. This time though instead of forking out 8000 squid for a 90 second appointment, I’d do the thing you’re meant to do and register with a doctor.

I thought I’d apply some logic to the exercise and use google maps to locate the nearest doctor – doctors here only serve a certain local radius. Calling the nearest, she said I would have to phone the next morning between 7 and 8 to make an appointment. I asked her if there was anything available that day and she asked for my registration number. When I said I didn’t have one, she asked my address, and eventually announced “we don’t serve your area”, and hung up. This happened twice more, however before being dismissed on the third call I asked how I would go about finding out which doctors did in fact serve my road. I was given a number, and the people there in turn gave me another number, hanging up before I could ask any further questions.

It seems that basic medical phone technique in this country is to give you the first available piece of information (not necessarily relevant) and then get you off the line as rapidly as possible. At least it makes a pleasant change from being an valuable-call-placing-important-customer in an eternal queue of whimsical melody & one aching shoulder.

As I now had a phone number to try, I couldn’t think of any good reason not to dial it – to my surprise it was in fact a medical centre. When I asked about registering I was challenged on my address, then told this clinic doesn’t service that road. I briefly debated the merits of whether the 8000 quid would have been worth it, but stuck to my guns and insisted that i’d been given this number by some advisory board or other as being my correct clinic. Pause. Could I please give my address again?

Once we had negotiated this obstacle the lady begrudgingly granted me an appointment to register – a week on Wednesday. At this juncture I thought it was a good job I hadn’t put a nail through my hand or anything (although again, the idea was more attractive than this).

Somewhat boldly I enquired if there might not be any chance of seeing a doctor sooner than that. She sort of mumbled something about afternoon appointments then asked if it was urgent- I replied that it wasn’t life or death, but I couldn’t return to work until I was better. And bingo – I had an appointment for that afternoon!

My sense of triumph was shortlived, as when I got into the doctor’s office it was the usual routine:”say aaah, cough please, yes this is a cold – drink water, rest up, plenty of vitamin c and paracetamol if you need it, and come back in 14 days if you’re still not better. NEXT!”.

At least that 90 seconds only cost me a few phonecalls.

Cough, splutter
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