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by Our GP partner in practice
28 May 2009

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Doctor’s illness is an added expense to the surgery

Forget swine flu, forget MPs’ expenses – I’ve not been well. Whether it was from the sandwich I picked up at the service station or one of the innumerous diarrhoea/sickness sufferers that I’ve seen in the last week I can’t be sure. I could kick myself if it’s the sandwich – I was going to choose the salsa-bean wrap thing at the petrol station but chose the poisonous bacon/chicken bap instead. But for the Mexican connection, the salsa thing would have been safer, I guess.

Before I succumbed to the bug, I was going to ridicule the swine flu pandemic. Now I’ll keep counsel.

If it had been swine flu, my wife had proposed banishing me to the in-laws’ caravan. I had high hopes that they’d tow it to the coast. As it is I haven’t got swine flu and I lie for endless hours drinking hot ribena and eating rich tea biscuits. How quickly I seem to embrace the sick model!

I do, however, feel guilty. Sympathetic noises from the practice manager and partners are a comfort, as is “stay away – it’s half-term” from those who are off. But there is a sense that patients still need seeing and one less puts pressure on those who are left at the surgery.

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At home, so far the casualties are light. Only the in-laws’ dog (on loan while they’re on holiday) seems to be suffering. That serves it right for curling up on the bed while I shivered.

Appointments have been tight recently, so we are all offering additional midday appointments plus morning, evening and – just to finish off those who aren’t ill yet – the extended hours’ surgery. And each day a team of two additional doctors will do the on-call, visiting and picking up any extra appointment requests.

I can’t help but make reference to expenses. Each year I vow to file my tax return more efficiently, and each year I blame the children for losing my medical defence invoice, my GMC subscription and the bill for the restoration of the ornamental fish pond (which at present is just the puddle from the dripping tap).

Every year, the tax return scares me half to death. So much so that when I was stopped for slightly exceeding the speed limit recently, in a panic all I could produce as proof of identification was last year’s tax return receipt. The policeman said: “That’s a first.”