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Patient Eye

Jo Carlowe

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

vvMy parents, who fall into the 65+ category, are eagerly awaiting their flu jabs.

“I wonder what theme they’ll have this year?” says my mum.

I haven’t a clue what she is talking about. But it emerges that last year’s flu clinic was a bit of a knees-up. The doctors and practice staff dressed in 1940s costumes and played 1940s tea-music to provide a pleasant distraction to the circle of patients waiting with rolled-up sleeves for the prick of a needle.

My mother tells me this as though it is standard practice. Indeed, perhaps it is. I have never been to a flu clinic. I have no idea - perhaps it is normal, maybe GPs get QoF points for coming up with theme-appropriate costumes.

I Google it. It’s tricky to research. I type in ‘doctor’ and ‘fancy dress’ which yields Doctor Who sites, a few toy outlets selling doctor and nurse costumes and rather a lot of ‘adult’ sites offering something similar but less innocent.

A little filtering and I am forced to conclude that aside from the occasional practice charity event and the odd Marathon running doctor dressed as Bananaman or a bumble bee, it is not de rigueur for doctors to amuse their patients with theme-days.

But maybe my parents’ practice is onto something? Just think of the opportunities: - diabetes race night, smoking cessation salsa, a Family Planning Hoedown?

Of course there has to be limits. The American comedienne Joan Rivers once famously complained about her gynaecologist who felt it was his job to entertain her: ‘Dr Schwartz, at your cervix! I hope you are dilated to see me…’.

But a little good taste jollity to break-up the monotony for practice staff and to encourage patients to attend something that promotes good public health, is no bad thing. Indeed, never before have my parents been so receptive to the idea of having an injection.

Author's Image

Jo Carlowe

Jo Carlowe is a freelance journalist specialising in health and psychology. She writes for national newspapers including The Times, The Daily Mail, and The Observer and for specialist medical journals, health websites and women's magazines. When not working, she is a self-confessed scrabble nerd, a reluctant runner (one who is still waiting for that elusive runners' high) and a lover of live music, fine food and single malt whisky. She lives in London with her four-year-old son and seven-year-old daughter.
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