Author and Lockdown Sceptics reader Melvyn Fickling wonders where all the patients have gone at his local surgery.
I have just returned from my local GP surgery in Norwich where I went to have a routine blood test. I knew it would be an unusual experience, but I was unprepared for what I found. Outside the door stood a large sign in yellow and black telling me that if I felt ill, I should go straight home… Reassured in my own rude glow of good health, I complied with the Wear a Mask signage and tried the door. It was locked… I suspect I was supposed to ring the doorbell, but I discovered that irascible handle rattling had the desired effect. A masked receptionist unlocked the door, stuck out his head and asked “What can I do for you?”
“Er, I have an appointment.”
The young man took my name, locked the door and went to check that I was telling the truth. He returned, unlocked the door and pointed what I took to be a taser at my face. It turned out he was taking my temperature. Reassured that I was not rabid, he finally allowed me across the threshold, immediately directing me to the toilet with an instruction to wash my hands. The toilet door was wedged open so he could watch for any lack of enthusiasm on my part. While humming “Happy Birthday” I read the sign that told me these facilities were cleaned after every single use…
Deemed clean, I was directed to the cavernous waiting room that was completely empty except for half-a-dozen chairs set at a very generous two metre distance from one another. Ludicrously, my escort allocated a specific chair and waited for me to be seated before retreating, presumably to scrub the basin I had just used.
I sat in cathedral-like solitude for a few minutes before the nurse called me. It was apparent that she knew me from better times, but with her features swaddled and her voice attenuated by a visor, I did not recognise her. It was not only the nurse that was wrapped like a mummy; her keyboard and mouse lay under their own makeshift clingfilm coverings.
Blood successfully taken, I was directed to exit following the one-way system. I crossed the still-deserted waiting room to the side door and left via the garden and car park.
All this in a city that is today declaring 12 ‘cases’ per 100,000 and where the hospital (a major hub for the whole county) has recorded only two Covid deaths in the last four months.
In normal times I have never seen this waiting room with fewer than a dozen people at any time of the day, and generally it is quite crowded. Where are those people now? Who is dealing with their health concerns while the NHS pussyfoots around with their risible Covid-emergency overkill?