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Woke’s up, doc? 


IN what will be seen by many as a prescription for wokery, doctors are being urged to modify their language to avoid ‘belittling and infantilising’ patients. 

Phrases such as ‘take’ someone’s temperature, or ‘send’ someone home should not be used because they emphasise the medic’s position of power, it is claimed. And, rather than saying a patient has a ‘complaint’, a more sympathetic expression such as a ‘concern’ or a ‘problem’ should be chosen.  

The call comes in a British Medical Journal article by consultant physician Dr Zoe Fritz and junior doctor Dr Catriona Cox, both of Cambridge University. But they deny political correctness is behind it. Instead, they say, doctors should choose language that ‘facilitates trust, balances power, and supports shared decision-making’.   

So how is that approach likely to work, say, in a busy hospital? Let’s cross over to A and E, where one exasperated patient has finally managed to see a doctor …  

‘Doctor, thank God I’ve got to see you at last! I …’   

– ‘If I can just stop you there. With respect, please don’t call me doctor. It imputes I am the superior intellect in our potential relationship, a situation you might find intimidating and inhibiting. Please call me Reginald.’  

‘Okay, okay, Reginald. Now …’  

–  ‘And a very good afternoon to you … I’m sorry, I don’t know your personal pronoun.’  

‘Er, I’m Mister – Mr William Sprogsprockle. People call me Bill.’   

–  ‘Thank you, Mr Sprogsprockle. May I call you Bill? Surveys indicate that the use of a first name in certain circumstances can lead to a more productive outcome.’  

‘Call me whatever you bloody well like. Just help me.’  

–  ‘First of all, can I thank you for choosing this particular NHS Trust? Our aim in this hospital is to accompany you on your journey towards a rich and rewarding integrated socio-medical experience. Now, without any implication that I am talking down to you, or seeking irrelevant personal information, can you please tell me the purpose of your visit today?’  

‘Well, doc – er, Reginald – as you might have noticed if you hadn’t been rabbiting on so much, I’ve hammered this big nail through my left thumb. I was putting up some shelves. It’s still bleeding and the pain is awful.’  

–  ‘Do you mind if I just stop you there again, Bill? The word “pain” in this context may be problematic, possibly indicating a situation of conflict between us. You may have feelings of resentment, while I may experience guilt at allowing the situation to be prolonged. Can we agree that in your notes I simply say that you have issues with the first digit on the radial side of the hand?’  

‘Yes, Reginald, put whatever you like. I just want you please to take out the nail, put a bandage on my thumb and give me something to stop the pain – sorry, the issues.’  

–  ‘Now, Bill, I warmly welcome your input, because the question of treatment should be a shared decision. If I may, I’d like to suggest we further expand this debate to ensure we are covering all aspects of possible amelioration.’  

‘For God’s sake, doc – er, Reginald – I’ve been waiting in the hospital corridor for six hours and I’m in bloody agony. Please fix my thumb!’  

–  ‘I can’t help noticing, Bill, that you are grimacing, your teeth are gritted, and your eyes are watering. Please be assured that I am in no way making a critical observation and it is your absolute right to react to the situation as you see fit. Now, to continue our discussion on the question of treatment …’  

‘Reginald, I’m going mad with pain here!’  

–  ‘Again, Bill, I appreciate where you are coming from, given your situation. However, it would be remiss of me not to allow you the opportunity of exploring all options in our new spirit of co-operation, mutual decision-making and balance of trust … Bill! Bill! What are you doing? Please don’t touch my medical equipment …’  

‘B***er off, Reginald!’  

‘… ah, Bill, I see you’ve now extracted the nail yourself, applied antiseptic, bandaged the affected area, given yourself an anti-tetanus jab and taken a couple of paracetamol. Now that’s what I call an exemplary doctor-patient shared relationship. Before you go, can you take this feedback form in your good hand and fill it in? We welcome your comments.’  

‘You know where you can stick your paper, you lazy, useless creep. This patronising new policy of yours is just a load of woke, politically correct, bull****.’   

–  ‘Oh. Is it that obvious?’  

‘Yes, it sticks out like a sore thumb.’  

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Weaver Sheridan
Weaver Sheridan
Weaver Sheridan is a wannabe best-selling novelist, one of his efforts being the Fifties Franny series, available on Amazon Kindle books.

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