Like any other sane person living in the United Kingdom, I spend a reasonable amount of my time worried about the state of health in the country, and in particular the perilous condition of the National Health Service. I feel fairly well informed in this area by Mrs E, who qualified as a nurse over 25 years ago and has returned from almost every shift since with either a) a shake of the head in a ‘you couldn’t make it up’ style or b) a story about something so inspirational around life and death that makes you think that really, the rest of us are just playing bit parts to the Doctors and Nurses that really make the world go around.
So, it was with a genuine and non-sarky interest that I read of the government’s new initiative to get 5,000 new GPs on the NHS register. In fact, I went straight to the GMC website to check what sort of a difference this would make. If you’re of a similar mindset, head for http://www.gmc-uk.org/doctors/register/search_stats.asp and have a look for yourself. You’ll see that if Dave’s big plan is to announce 5,000 more GPs before the next election, then he doesn’t actually need to do anything more than for the last five years. If, however, he wants to get 5,000 in the next (say) twelve months, then he’ll have his work cut out, particularly given the number of grads qualifying each year as doctors.
Fortunately, the Emu exists partly to right these political challenges, and using simple principles of supply and demand, proposes an innovative method of getting more doctors into GP practices. It seems to me that there are more than enough individuals wandering around, calling themselves Doctor, that we should just start asking them to step up to the mark and start to save the NHS. Here is my starter for 10:
1. Dr Dre
Let’s face it, it’s time for the good doctor to leave his past of Snoop Dogg and Ice Cube endorsement and the production of ridiculously expensive headphones, and return to his previous occupation, which, as very few people know, was as a junior GP in a small surgery just outside Sheffield. Rap fans will know that Dr Dre’s son Curtis is now known as ‘Hood Surgeon’, so there’s a great opportunity for the two of them to work together as a family practice, possibly under the banner “Get Well or Die Tryin'”.
2. Dr Who
When I was growing up, our family went to the same doctor for about twenty years. Which was great for continuity and relationships, and Dr Who could offer the same sort of service, what with him being over 900 years old. There would be a problem with him regenerating every couple of years, but that would probably be ok as long as you didn’t get Peter Davison while pregnant. You’d worry about him slipping out of character and into ‘Young Mister ‘Erriot’, and delivering the new born with nothing more than a bar of carbolic soap and a winsome smile.
3. Doctor and the Medics
Looking at the pictures of Doctor and the Medics, it’s quite hard to believe how they’d work out at some of our quieter GP practices, but, on the other hand, how many Doctors will actually come fully equipped with a full set of medics to assist their procedure? In any case, they might be just the tonic for some of the more depressed goths that you find hanging around waiting rooms.
4. Doctor Spock
Not to be confused with Mr Spock (see 5. below), Doctor Spock managed to turn American baby and childcare on its head in the 1960’s by psychiatrist analysis of family behaviours. Something that might not be a bad idea to revisit, given some of the things that you see every day. He also wrote a book called ‘Why Babies Suck’, which might be of interest to the goths currently waiting to be see by Doctor & The Medics (who are, of course, running late again).
5. Doctor McCoy
I don’t know that much about Dr McCoy’s actual medical qualifications, although, on reflection, you never saw the actors in Star Trek with coughs or colds, so I reckon it was a pretty healthy place if you ignored the weekly alien predators. But the overriding reason you’d have Dr McCoy as your doctor would be so that he’d be around to lighten the mood during a family death. You’d ask him (say) if your grandfather was ill. “It’s worse than that, he’s dead, Jim”, he’d say. Even if your name wasn’t Jim, you’d ask him to say it again, and again, and you’d have skipped right to the acceptance part of the grieving process.
6. Doctor Zhivago
Let’s face it, if Omar Sharif was your GP, AND he was a poet, AND a left wing radical who’d been wronged by the system, AND you knew that all he ever wanted was to live a peaceful life thinking wistfully of the woman he loved….well, he could tell you anything really. Terminal illness, high prescription charges, permanent deformities, anything really, as long as there was a bit of soft balalaika going on in the background.
7. Dr Evil
Just along the corridor from Doctor Zhivago, with his soft eyes and gentle touch, is the slightly less popular office (inside a hollowed out volcano) of Doctor Evil. Fans of Austin Powers will remember that the bad Doctor went to Evil Medical School in Belgium, before graduating and embarking upon despicable plans to take over the world. He could at least be relied on to be fairly direct when delivering bad news, and , failing an immediate cure for your ills, could help you to be cryogenically frozen.
8. Dr Indiana Jones
By day, Dr Jones is a renowned lecturer on early history, with a penchant for tweed jackets and an apparent need to employ a butler. In his holidays, he likes to go exploring ancient civilisations and battling with Nazi throwbacks. None of this comes for free, so he’d be an ideal candidate to moonlight at a GP surgery of en evening. Much like Dr Zhivago, he could tell you most things while you melted in his eyes, but with the added bonus that you’d be talking to an expert lasso enthusiast at the same time.
9. Dr Hook
Most people will be surprised to hear that Dr Hook was qualified as a medical doctor, but his was nothing if not a life of contradiction, given that he didn’t actually have a hook either. Which was just as well, given some of the delicate keyhole surgery he had to perform early in his career with the Medicine Show. Dr Hook was also known for his bedside manner and good nature with relatives, for example with Sylvia’s mother: “Please Mrs Avery, I just want to tell her goodbye…”
10. Doctor Seuss
Doctor Seuss is my outside candidate for greatest American author of all time, so I’m slightly biased, but I really think if every interaction was in the style of ‘The Cat In The Hat’ then even really bad news would be fun:
Would you, could you, step this way
Your blood results are back today
Not, alas the ideal answer
Son, you have pancreatic cancer
On the rare occasions that I visit a doctor, I’ve forgotten the diagnosis about 5 minutes after I leave the surgery. Maybe I need to go to a GP to check my memory loss, but I think it’s more that complex medical terminology and me have never really worked well together. But if Doctor Seuss told me the diagnosis, I’d never forget.
Given the challenges faced by the NHS, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if we had some of these Doctors facing off to the Great British Public before too long. As one of the GBP, I’d be delighted.