Monday, December 06, 2010

Come up and see me, make me smile

This is a letter I have just written to my new GP.

Hurley Clinic
Ebenezer House
Kennington Lane
London SE11 4HJ

6 December

Dear whoever

I am surprised by the tone of your letter of 'the date postmarked'. I have visited the clinic once to register with you as I have recently moved into the area.

I was delighted to discover on registration that I had shrunk about three inches according to your machine and I was classified as obese. If I am obese as a 14 stone 6 footer that might  explain why we keep on being told that we are facing an obesity epidemic. I may be carrying a couple of extra pounds than when I was in my twenties, but nothing to worry about. I am many things, but obese I am not.

I am sorry however that it has taken me a few days to respond to your letter,
"Thank you for completing the alcohol assessment as part of patient registration. ('Part of your' or 'part of our' patient registration makes sense, even 'part of the', but  'part of patient registration' is grammatically naked) Having had a look at your answers to the questions, it appears that you may be drinking more than the recommended safe levels of alcohol.

Please could you make an appointment to see your GP at your convenience.

Yours sincerely

Hurley Clinic
Dictated but not signed.

but I must be suffering from a hangover of biblical proportions.

Just to let you know, I have not taken a day of work sick for as long as I can remember (though given I am such a soak that might be the last few days when I come to think about it). I do not sign up to a GP in order to be hectored about what is or what might not be a safe level of drinking. I had the good nature to answer your questions honestly (somewhat unusual I grant you), but I would have thought that you had better things to do than to fire off letters, 'dictated but not signed' to book appointments that would be a waste of both your, and my time.

If I am ill I will get in touch. I do not appreciate this cack-handed attempt at some form of social engineering.

The concept of a 'recommended safe level of alcohol' is a fiction, dreamt up in order to say something when the Royal College of Physicians produced their 1987 Report,
"A Great and Growing Evil: The Medical Consequences of Alcohol Abuse".
As one of the authors of the report Richard Smith, the former editor of the British Medical Journal has since commented,
"David Barker was the epidemiologist on the committee and his line was that ‘We don’t really have any decent data whatsoever. It’s impossible to say what’s safe and what isn’t’.

“And other people said, ‘Well, that’s not much use. If somebody comes to see you and says ‘What can I safely drink?’, you can’t say ‘Well, we’ve no evidence. Come back in 20 years and we’ll let you know’. So the feeling was that we ought to come up with something. So those limits were really plucked out of the air. They weren’t really based on any firm evidence at all. It was a sort of intelligent guess by a committee.”

Nobody is suggesting that pouring the contents of a brewer's dray down one's throat on a daily basis is a sensible thing to do, and we are all aware of the consequences of gin lane, but trust me on this, I am a grown up and I can make these decisions for myself without the pursing of lips and tut-tutting from the NHS.
          So thank you for your concern, and I hope not to need to see you for years to come.
Yours truly,

Gawain Towler
I hope I don't get ill


Large Melot Please said...

Richard Smith the former BMJ Editor was Chairman of that committee and its report for 14 units for women and 21 units for men was published in 1998. In 2006 Smith was interviewed and admitted:

“Those limits were really plucked out of the air. They were not based on any firm evidence at all. It was a sort of intelligent guess by a committee,”

However a new paper in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research suggests that abstaining from alcohol does actually tend to increase one's risk of dying even when you exclude former drinkers. The most shocking part? Abstainers' mortality rates are higher than those of heavy drinkers.” 63 units over a bottle of wine a day tee tottaler."

Goodnight Vienna said...

:-) Good one. When I tried to register last week the GP looked at me, looked at the patient registration form and then told me to go elsewhere. I'm still wondering whether it's worth it.

Tcheuchter said...

Definition of an alcoholic:- someone who drinks more than his doctor.

Dick Puddlecote said...

Bravo! :)