RICHARD ORD: Why the brutal truth is the best medicine

Our doctors' surgery is having a bit of a makeover at the moment.

Having reached the age where I find myself in there more often than I’d like, I notice these things.

They’ve painted the walls a fetching purple and removed the glass partition that divided the patients from the receptionists. It’s now a more open and welcoming environment. And that’s not good.

Advances in medical procedures and wonder drugs are messing with human evolution.

A story this week revealed that Caesarean sections (C-sections, to give them the catchier and much easier-to-spell nickname) are resulting in more mothers now needing the surgery to have a baby because there are more women with a narrow pelvis than ever before.


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Historically, these genes would not have been passed on because, before C-sections, many would have died during labour. Now there’s more need for the op than ever before.

While I’m not advocating the abolition of the C-section, there is a case for doctors’ surgeries to be less welcoming. Given the strain on the NHS and the knock-on evolutionary effect, surely it makes sense to make the NHS less patient-friendly.

At our surgery, the digital display announcing when you’re due to see the doctor wasn’t working. It meant the doctor, after seeing a patient, had to pop his head round the door and shout the next patient’s name.

It got me thinking. If you want to reduce the number of patients clogging up the waiting room, instead of shouting out their names, shout out their conditions.


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That would soon clear the waiting room. Only the truly ill would hang about.

“Inflamed hemorrhoids” or “winter vomiting bug” shouted out every five minutes would keep the numbers down. Either you’d be too embarrassed to rise or you’d fear you’re in danger of catching something worse.

And why do they insist on filling the waiting room with interesting magazines, TV screens and, in some cases, video games? It’s not a blinking youth club.

I wouldn’t even put seats in there. You need a sparse holding area, with a receptionist behind wire mesh. Or better still, a receptionist behind a metal plate door, with a sliding serving hatch.


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To really push the envelope, get the patients in the holding area to help the doctors. You could get them taking swabs, collecting stool samples and straining phlegm (that last one may not be a medical procedure, but it sounds like it might be). It’s not meant to be a holiday.

If the waiting room patients stay to help the doc, the service runs much more efficiently; if they choose to leave, the waiting list goes down. It’s a win-win.

Hey, it can even help foster community relations. Being intimately involved in the health and bodily functions of your fellow man can only be a good thing.

That’s human evolution sorted. Next week, global warming ...