Dev Lall

What’s the Open Golf Tournament got to do with an NHS Labour ward?

In case you have failed to notice, The Open Golf tournament is taking place in St Andrews this weekend. This means almost all of the menfolk (and some of the fairer sex) will be glued to the television, present in body only. Any attempt at conversation being rewarded with a distracted ‘Mmm’ or ‘Uh-huh’ and a complete absence of eye contact.

St Andrews is well known for many things: the golf of course, being the University attended by Prince William and Kate Middleton and its ‘micro-climate’. The latter means that even on a day where the temperature is reportedly 20 oC, it is freezing and blowing a gale in St Andrews.

Hence those who actually go to the golf tournament, watch the action (action?) on a large screen in the sheltered confines of the beer tent. So they say. (A friend in finance even claimed he was ‘working’ there.)

Rory McIlroy pulled out of the tournament due to an ankle injury sustained whilst playing football with friends. This was big news in my house and it did cross my mind that his sponsors must be fuming that their logos are missing out on four days of televised promotion despite the large fees they would have paid Rory to wear their products.

A similar occurrence happened in my department this week and, while the sponsors were not fuming, the rota consultant was pulling out what remains of his hair.

You see, this is the prime fortnight of summer holidays in Scotland and only a skeleton staff remain. The workplace is very quiet and there is little slack in the system.

When the news was received that not one, but two of our trainees had injured themselves during extreme sports and would be off sick for the foreseeable future, sympathy was way down the list of reactions.

At the top was ‘who is going to cover maternity this weekend?’.

As ever the shortfall is made up by Consultants (see, we already work 7 days a week) and this costs the employer either time or money.

It makes me wonder whether we should enquire about leisure activities more closely during the appointments process. Do we really want an adrenaline junkie as a colleague?

Should alarm bells ring when hobbies such as sky diving, white water rafting and off piste skiing are listed? Such diverse pursuits outwith medicine have to date been considered a bonus to one’s CV.

Perhaps we should only admit to ‘reading and films’ to avoid hobby discrimination? That’s a good one for the equality and diversity trainers.

Instead of inserting a ban on high risk activities into the contract, another solution would be for all anaesthetists to insure their left arm, in the way that piano players insure their hands and actresses do their faces, legs or whatever. That way when doctors are unable to work through injury, their insurance will pay for cost of covering 72 hours on the labour ward.

Or we could ask Jeremy Hunt how he plans to pay for it. Time or money?

Anyway, now the rain’s off, I’m back to the yawn fest known as golf.

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