Going to the doctor

The school holidays meant being able to collect my prescription myself. Low dosage statins seem such an ordinary medication now that it seems an annoyance that they are still only available on prescription. Buying them from a pharmacy would probably be cheaper than the £9.15 prescription charge. Of course, had I not eaten a surfeit of cakes, biscuits and fried food over the years, I would not now need tablets to deal with the plaque built up in my coronary arteries.

It had been months since I had been at Langport Surgery, before the arrival of the virus. It was a shock to go into the octagonal waiting room and find it virtually devoid of content, every fixture and fitting seemed to have been removed. The secretarial staff and dispensary have always been behind glass, but even screened by thick glass, the person handing out prescriptions still wore a visor. The message was clear, this was not a place to linger.

It was hard to imagine how Covid-19 would have been handled in the old building that had served as a surgery until the building of the present premises in 1992.

The old surgery was on The Hill in Langport, a steep street that leads from the town to the parish church at the top. There was no car park, patients were required to park wherever they might find a place to stop. The doorway was reached by walking down a wide alleyway that ran between the building and a stone wall. The waiting room was small and frequently very crowded. The dispensary was through a hatchway in the waiting room.  After a consultation with the doctor, medicines would be available within a few minutes.

Perhaps people didn’t go to the doctor very often, perhaps people were healthier, but there was never a problem in getting to see a doctor. If you didn’t have an appointment, you could turn up and sit and wait. Once one of the doctors had finished his list, he would see those who had arrived without prior arrangement. Perhaps the accommodating attitude arose from the fact that most people didn’t have a telephone in their house and making an appointment could be difficult for someone who was ill and had to use a telephone box.

Had there been a pandemic fifty years ago, our entire local health system would have been difficult to sustain.

I look forward to seeing Langport Surgery as it was before Covid-19, its comfort and design a reassurance to those coming to see the doctor.

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