Wednesday, December 17, 2008

If Ill, Stay Home!!

David Blunkett has just urged the use of handkerchiefs to reduce the viruses present in a sneeze. This is good advice as far as it goes, but it needs more radical advice:

If ill, stay home.

By ill, I mean that you feel hot/cold, weak, miserable and rotten. You may have blocked nose, sore throat, cough and ache in limbs, body or head. You got this? You got a virus. If you go to work, three things will happen:
  1. You will spread it around the office, and on public transport.
  2. You will make mistakes at work because your brain is not working properly.
  3. It will last longer - could even lead to chronic post-viral fatigue.
Got it? If ill, stay home. You feel weak because your immune system wants to use your nutrients and energy. If you try to use your legs and brain, your immune system cannot do its job properly. You can self-certify for one week (in the UK) and if your work insists on a certificate from the GP, they should be prepared to pay her professional fee for this totally unnecessary and intrusive service. 2 days in bed is a good investment that may save you 2 weeks off work as it drags on and gets worse.

Vitamin C and Zinc capsules from the chemist are helpful. Take them a the earliest opportunity.

And wash your hands a lot. And do not touch your eyes or lips. If this is at all possible (I bet you're doing it right now, now that I have mentioned it).

Antibiotics do not touch viruses, so there is no point in asking your GP for them.

If I sound a bit sharp, it is because general practice is totally swamped by people with minor self-limiting respiratory tract infections who want certificates and antibiotics. And they spread the contagion to reception staff, and to others in the waiting room. And it leads to the stupidly long waiting times to see your GP, and also leads to mistakes, when hard-pressed, hurried GPs mistake the one presentation of a serious illness as one of the hundreds of trivial cases.

If people observed these wise precepts, the NHS would save millions of pounds a year in antibiotics savings, and in freed-up consultation times. But there is no point in even suggesting it to the NHS Executive, because (a) they will have naught but that which is beaten out on their own anvil (i.e. they do not listen to real clinicians) and (b) the DTI would raise a howl of protest because they think everyone will be taking sickies.

Listen, if business thinks it has a problem with malingerers, that is a problem for business to sort out. Routine certification is a total waste of time for everyone involved, but we are doomed to continue the irrational process, and indeed to do it in spades with this latest wheeze where the GP has to say what the patient is capable of doing.

So, SNAFU, because Government is not acquainted with the process of logical thought.

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