Saturday 24 June 2023

The Great Man and A Hospital Visit

 Lichfield memorialises its most famous son in various ways, of which one of the more unlikely is the naming of its hospital – the Samuel Johnson Community Hospital. The great man would surely be pleased: he had a lifelong interest in 'physic' and was a keen amateur physician (in an age when the professionals were often dangerously incompetent – witness Dr Slop in Tristram Shandy). As he was in himself a walking compendium of maladies, Johnson's interest is perhaps not surprising. Today there is a whole subgenre of Johnson studies devoted to his various medical conditions, and it is often said that, had he lived in our times, they could have been accurately diagnosed and effectively treated. But without his daily afflictions, mental and physical, would Johnson have developed the extraordinary moral fortitude and strength of character that made him the man, and the writer, that he was? 
  Anyway, yesterday I had an appointment at the Samuel Johnson Community Hospital, a large modern building that looks much like any other modern hospital (though happily the much smaller older building is adjacent, and that is more pleasing to the eye – diapered brickwork, gatehouse and gabled range in Elizabethan style, George Gilbert Scott's very first commission). At this point my post becomes yet another tale of NHS confusion/incompetence, so feel free to stop reading here...
  Back in May I went to my GP practice, more in hope than expectation, to see if I could get an appointment. The only option short of a month-long wait was to avail myself of the Saturday GP service at the Samuel Johnson. I turned up, was duly checked over and sent for a blood test, which, the doctor told me, would be arranged by my practice. Back to the practice I went, only to be told that all blood tests were done at the Samuel Johnson. When I queried this it was simply reaffirmed, so I duly embarked on the process (all online, of course) of securing an appointment, cunningly ticking the box for 'Urgent'. This threw up a date some five weeks in the future, and that was the appointment I dutifully turned up for yesterday – only to be told (by a very nice and sympathetic member of staff, who was as bemused as I was) that the practice should indeed have done the blood test, and the service at the SJ is only for testees referred by consultants. Hey ho, it's back to the practice on Monday, drawing on my scant reserves of moral fortitude... 

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