ere we offer our usual collection of oddball items and gentle musings…
WAITING ROOM SCIENCE Diary abhors thievery of any kind – even when it might offer a public service. Researchers from New Zealand have recently reported on the findings of an ambitious study designed to shine a light on the murky world of waiting room magazine theft. In the study, 87 magazines were placed in the waiting room of a general practice in Auckland. Titles ranged from high-minded magazines such as The Economist and National Geographic to ‘gossipy’ entertainment publications, defined as having five or more photos of celebrities on the cover. Twice a week the researchers checked back and within a month nearly half had disappeared including all but one of the 27 “gossipy magazines” – yet all 15 copies of The Economist remained. Research team leader Professor Bruce Arroll commented: “Quantification of this phenomena was urgently needed… Future research in waiting room science would include identifying who or what is responsible for the removal of magazines.”
MEDICAL EMERGENCY WITH A VIEW NHS Highland recently conducted a workshop considering innovative solutions to improve out-of-hours care in rural areas. The current service was judged to be too fragmented and lacking in flexibility to cross-cover, as well as being “extremely expensive”. One solution floated was the use of “telebooths” which would allow patients to talk to GPs from remote locations. Diary was immediately put in mind of the lone red phone box in the film Local Hero – perched on the stone quay of the fictional Scottish village of Ferness. Maybe you could enjoy a lucky glimpse of the northern lights as you await the EMRS helicopter.
CHEAPER BY THE BUNNY The Health and Social Care Information Centre has published figures on GP funding in England revealing that the cost of primary care was on average £136 per registered patient. Reporting on the announcement,
the magazine Pulse helpfully pointed out that this amounted to less than an annual Sky TV subscription which costs £238 per year. The magazine noted that £136 also cannot get you the yearly rise in the price of a season train ticket from Guildford to London, a trip to the cinema every fortnight, one haircut per month or a daily Mars bar. An anonymous reader on the Pulse website further commented: “Just got a quote from PetPlan for a year’s health insurance for a rabbit; £175.80.”
EMOTIONAL EXTREMES Diary is well aware of the benefits of encouraging positive emotions amongst team members and minimising moaning, but it can be taken too far. A prime example can be found at the New York customer service provider who allegedly forced employees to pray, thank God for their jobs and say “I love you” to managers and colleagues. Reuters reported that several of those who resisted the rather unusual requirements of the “Onionhead” spiritual belief system were fired, while others claim they were demoted. Details emerged in a recent lawsuit raised by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Long Island-based United Health Programs of America and its parent company Cost Containment Group. One worker who complained about the system (created by a relative of United Health’s owners) was allegedly moved to an open plan area and a Buddha statue placed in her former office. In a statement, the companies said they were "caring, family-oriented businesses" and called the lawsuit "meritless."
OUT OF BED AND BRUSH YOUR TEETH Diary applauds ongoing Department of Health initiatives to revise the dental contract to encourage and reward proactive efforts for promoting oral health. Perhaps the Government could go even further. It has been reported that in New Zealand a trial program was underway to remind the unemployed to clean their teeth. Text messages were sent daily asking whether recipients had brushed and requesting them to respond when they had done so.
EVERYONE NEEDS A FAIRY GODMOTHER Even if he’s called Ray. The small village of Prees in Shropshire was recently celebrating the opening of a new £1 million surgery built through the generosity of local businessman Ray Grocott. He stepped in to fund construction of the new Prees Medical Centre when the retirement of the current GP – who worked out of his own home – would have left the village without a surgery. Said Ray: ‘I’m a chap who’s lived in the village all my life, our family have been all born there, we’re used to the proper GPs - the old original ones. We’ve had such good service and there’s no way that I fancied all the village people having to travel to Wem or Whitchurch.” No indeed not.
WALK, SIT, CONSULT ON WATER. Diary has noted that the dwindling supply of willing GP trainees has lately been matched by ever more creative means to
attract candidates. Forget sober adverts in the back of the BMJ – you need a You Tube video with a James Bond sound track and action shots (Arran) or a consciously (let’s hope) cringe-worthy musical number on the attractions of primary care (West Sussex CCG). East Cumbria GP Training Programme has recently launched #GreatBritishConsultations as a way of getting noticed on social media with a series of eye catching photographs to attract attention – this one rather messianic. Good luck we say.
CALL FOR DIARY ITEMS Do you have any tidbits, anecdotes or absurdities in a similar vein to the items above? Please write in or email them to PM@mddus.com
PHOTOGRAPH: STEVE RAZZETTI
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