The medical ward. A concentration of illness, anxiety, uncertainty, need and exemplary patience. Each patient, although concerned primarily for their own welfare, cannot avoid noticing and following momentous events in the lives of others. The architects of the ward designed a semblance of privacy, and the medical staff try to maintain it by pulling (literally) paper-thin... Continue Reading →


A now traditional Christmas Carol-esque cautionary tale for busy doctors, which also owes something to another, less esteemed cultural influence... oOo Jim, a thirty-something medical registrar, stared out of an eighth floor window into the lifting darkness. With dawn came the prospect of home, and the end of his fourth night on call. He thought about... Continue Reading →

Consultant outcome data – GP skit

Terence needs a bowel resection for cancer. This was found at colonoscopy as part of his company’s health insurance policy . His GP has referred him to Miss Emma Thomas, a colorectal surgeon at the local Trust. Terence has looked her up on the new NHS England ‘Consultant outcome data’ website. He has some concerns.   In the GP... Continue Reading →

The patient as riddle

'Speak friend and enter' - riddle on Westgate of Moria (Fellowship of the Ring) Recently a patient said to me, ‘Thank you for taking an interest.’ This compliment reveals a whole world of problems. It says, in ascending order of alarm – Up until now no-one has been interested I’ve been looking for someone to... Continue Reading →


Another brief exercise in wondering what it’s like for patients who meet our kind in certain situations. The other day a junior colleague described to me, over lunch, a patient who had been admitted with unusual and florid signs, due to a disease that is not commonly seen. I clapped my hands and said, ‘Excellent!’... Continue Reading →

Autonomy and necessity: 10 scenes

Scene 1 - Café Am I happy with the care I received? Nothing turned out as I had foreseen, little was done to me that I actually wanted. Choices…don’t make me laugh. The only choice that would have made any difference would have been the choice not to have this illness. And who has that... Continue Reading →

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