Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Flying Doctors

There's this Polish doctor who commutes 13 hours to provide out-of-hours support for the National Health Service in Aberdeen.

He claims to be in a fit state to work, but I have personal experience that would suggest otherwise.

My weekly long-distance commutes aren't up to these standards, but are still pretty gruelling. Among my least favourite Mondays of recent time are the following :-

* Drive Glasgow to Crewe (240 miles, 4 hours)
* Drive Glasgow to Edinburgh, flight to Frankfurt
* Drive Manchester to St.Albans (180 miles, 3 hours), train to London
* Fly Manchester to Munich, then onto Bratislava

Like the Polish GP, I need to be up very early to make these journeys. Combined with travel stress, I usually arrive at my workplace in a state I can only compare to child-related sleep-deprivation. Then my work starts.

During Mondays I'm usually cranky, liable to defer decisions and procrastinate, and generally feel like I'm wading through treacle.

I remember very clearly waking from a nap at Heathrow and not knowing whether it was Monday morning and I was waiting for the flight to Brussels, or whether it was Friday night and I was waiting for the shuttle back home to Glasgow.

The thing about my work is that no-one is likely to die because I'm a Monday-morning zombie. The work of a GP is hard enough, but what has gone wrong with the NHS when we need to import a sleepy doctor whose second language is English every second Monday and export him every second Friday?

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