The out-of-hours team – at your service Sir
There’s been a lot of criticism recently about the current state of the out-of-hours doctor service now that most GPs have chosen to opt out. (Telegraph report) Down in my neck of the woods though we’re providing an OOH service that’s second to none.
Sometime early last evening Bill managed to get an OOH doc to call because his legs were “playing up“. To be fair, his legs are a bit of a state; oedematous, ulcerated and in no condition to go marathon running or morris dancing. Bill reckons he’s got cramps but whatever the actual symptoms were the doc decided a prescription for some diazepam tablets should do the trick. GPs usually prescribe quinine sulphate for cramps in my experience. Alternatively why not try some tonic water, its got quinine in it and goes rather nicely in a tall glass with a liberal splash of gin, some ice and a slice. Now Bill lives in Tumbleweed Village and the local pharmacist was closed so he was going to have to wait until morning to get his tablets.
Moving forward a few hours and Bill decides that he’s really not going to make it until morning, so what to do? No point calling the OOH service again; he’s already got the prescription. NHS re-Direct can’t help, other than to suggest he gets the prescription filled “Hey, the chemist’s closed what other bright ideas have you got?” So, following a time honoured tradition he naturally dials 999. Good old AMPDS managed to come up with a ‘B’ cat ‘patient unwell’ code and Control sent a 5 tonne front-line ambulance round on blue lights.
Needless to say the crew weren’t too impressed. One of them had a bit of a ‘light-bulb’ moment and rang me up on the bat phone. “Hello Magwitch, you carry diazepam tablets on the car don’t you? Fancy coming round and helping Bill out?” Not much was happening so I squared things with Control and tootled off for a pleasant drive in the country out to Tumbleweed Village with Chet Baker happily playing on the jukebox.
Now it was a bit of an oversight on my part but I didn’t think to ask exactly what the OOH doc had prescribed. I’ve got 5mg diazepam tablets on the car but the prescription was for 2mg ones: oops. I put in a call to the doctor who sits up in the Control centre covering the telephone triage for what’s left of our service’s OOH contracts. The doc wasn’t too impressed either and, as I expected, he wasn’t happy for me to leave my tablets to fill Bill’s prescription. So on to plan B then; or is this plan C? The OOH co-ordinator on the desk did a bit of tap, tap, tapping on her computer and advised that there was a late night chemist still open back in Scroatsville. Looking a bit sharpish I grabbed Bill’s prescription and headed back towards base to get the pills.
The pharmacist was wonderful. Prescription filled, FP10 form signed and I was winging my way back to Bill in double-quick time. Problem solved. Another happy punter for the ambulance service.
So what did it take to get the cramp in Bill’s legs sorted out?
Meet the A-Team: an OOH GP, A front-line ambulance with a paramedic and EMT crew, an ECP on an FRV, another OOH GP, an OOH co-ordinator and a pharmacist.
God we’re good! Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together!
Photo from The A-Team Shrine