Our Visit to the Doctor

Our Visit to the Doctor

For various reasons, but mostly because of travel, I have not had a medical check-up for twenty-four years – since I was forty. My wife is fourteen years younger than me, and she has never had one. So, being back in the UK ‘for good’ now, I thought that it was about time that I got that sorted out.

We registered with Ravenscourt, a doctor’s surgery in Barry, my home town, and were told that it would take six weeks. That was quite a surprise, shock even, but I had heard about the cut-backs, and since we were ‘non-essential’ and there was nothing obviously wrong with us, we let that go, even though the appointment fell inconveniently on my birthday.

So, we went along, at the also inconvenient time of nine a.m. not knowing what to expect. Friends had suggested that a full medical check-up would take ‘about an hour’.

We arrived punctually at the surgery, awaited our turn, which was also on time, and went up together, although only I was actually called. The doctor was surprised, but was all right about it when I explained that I sometimes needed to clarify some terminology for my Thai wife.

That wasn’t a problem and the young man took our blood pressure and listened to our breathing. We were both ‘A OK’.

‘How are you feeling?’ he asked.

‘OK’, we replied. ‘However, my back is pretty bad’, I said. ‘I can’t walk a hundred metres without having to sit down’. He gave us forms to go to two separate hospitals for blood tests and heart traces.

‘I take these blood pressure tablets’, I offered. ‘I’ve been taking them for twenty-four years, are there better ones available now?’ I wanted to say that they were effecting me in other ways, but didn’t.

‘Oh, they are working for you, and they are readily available, so I recommend that you stick with them’.

‘I disagree’, I countered, ‘The last prescription I had for them in Barry, could not be fulfilled by Boots in Barry. I was looking for sixty and they only had twenty-eight…’

His attitude changed visibly – he obviously didn’t like being contradicted.

Our interview was over, but my back problem hadn’t been mentioned, so I asked him to validate my application for a bus pass (I am sixty-four, and one qualifies at sixty).

‘That isn’t my job’, he replied. I took a deep breath, could see that we weren’t going to get anywhere and left with the strange feeling that there was something he wasn’t telling me. We had been in there for fifteen to twenty minutes for two check-ups…

Is that what the revered British National Health has been reduced to?

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All the best,


Footnote: Boots the chemist could not fulfil that order either – they were twelve Atenolol short.

Podcast: Our Visit to the Doctor