“We’ll let your pressure settle a bit and do another check in a minute,” she said. “I’m sorry but I have to ask you all these questions now when you come for your BP check”. She gave me a kind of sideways look; the sort you give to indicate hypocrisy.
She squinted at her form on the computer, sighed, and read me a load of drivel asking on a scale of hours how much running, skipping, aerobics, etc, did I do per week?
She looked at me. I looked at her rising red face.
“None,” I said, “I do other things”.
“But I haven’t got to that yet” – I wasn’t on her sheet. I was never one for fitting into statistics.
After another deep breath she went on; “On a scale of ….. how much …..”
It took ages to get it all read. We pressed on patiently. We both felt it was becoming farcical. Then she broke away from her form in a little rebellion.
“The thing is,” she said holding her hands out in agitation, “I’m spending all this time looking at this computer, filling in forms about your fitness instead of looking at you. By looking and listening to the patients I can soon assess how they’re doing.”
Sounded exactly like teachers and pupils to me. I totally sympathised.
More questions; “Now, about your work, on average do you sit….”
My work’s changed recently. I used to be on my feet with kids all day doing crazy things like searching for creepy crawlies in the undergrowth or going on adventures. Now I tend to sit and write about it.
I told her this. She silently went on filling in her statistics.
I thumb twiddled until she came to the end – ages later.
“Well … according to this you’re only moderately fit.” She made ‘moderately’ sound like an irresponsibility and I should be doing more to take care of myself.
“But I do yoga at least three times a week.”
“That’s not on my sheet.”
“So despite the fact that I walk for at least 30 minutes every day, cycle regularly, and do yoga your statistics suggest I’m not really fit?”
She looked miserable.
“Yes, according to this. And I know that’s stupid because from looking at you I can see you’re fine but that’s what the government is doing to health care. It’s preventing us from doing the real work of caring by keeping us busy collecting data that’s inaccurate and totally useless.”
But no doubt useful for the government to be able to quote for political purposes, I thought. Definitely like education. It seems it’s not only the teachers’ time that’s being wasted by sheet ticking.
And after all that, when she took my BP again it was even higher. Goodness knows what hers was with all this frustration.
I got on my bike and cycled home so stewed up I could feel my pressure rising all the time.
Is this what our caring professions are being reduced to? Nurses and teachers so busy taking care of sheet ticking they don’t have the time to care for the people!