by Dr Bashir Qureshi - FRCGP, FRCPCH, FFSRH-RCOG, AFOM-RCP, Hon MAPHA, Hon FRSPH
• Expert Witness in GP Clinical Negligence.
• Expert Witness in Cultural, Religious & Ethnic issues in Litigation.
• Life Fellow of the RCGP, RCPCH, RSM & Life Member of the BMA, ICGP.
I retired in 1998 but carry on doing GP locums in various parts of London. I believe that it applies to all parts of the body, especially to the brain, if you do not use it you lose it. Let me tell you a true story, while hiding details of real characters to preserve privacy. How the life of a Black British woman, age 29, was saved by a sheer stroke of luck or by Jesus Christ.
One Friday evening in March 2013, I went to do a locum in Vauxhall, London.
A Black British receptionist told me that a Black British woman wants to see a black doctor. I have an acquired British sense of humour as I live in London since 1964. I told her that I am a British Asian doctor and I can act as a white or a black doctor as it suits me. I called the patient in my consulting room.
The patient was crying due to stress and abdominal discomfort. She said that she has had loose motions alternating with constipation for last four months. No vomiting or blood in stools. She has seen all four English Partners, one each month, they have diagnosed “Irritable Bowel Syndrome” and given medication. She has been to the Urgent Care Clinic in her local hospital who diagnosed the same. She said she has dreamt that she is dying. She also said she saw Jesus in the same dream who asked her to see a Black doctor. She literally begged “please save me”. I felt shaken as a human reflex. I regained my self confidence because a patient can call a doctor but I cannot call anyone else before trying my best.
I called the same receptionist to chaperone me. I examined her abdomen and found that there was bloating but no tenderness. I thought that there was some swelling in abdomen which was like a balloon. I excluded acute appendicitis and acute abdomen. I filled a request form for urgent “Scan of abdomen, pelvis and gynaecological”. I rang hospital and made urgent Scan appointment for Monday morning. I made an appointment for her to see a GP Partner on Monday afternoon. I advised her to attend Urgent Care Clinic again, if feeling worse.
One Friday evening in April 2013, I went again to the same practice to do a locum. A locum is akin to a bus driver and he or she is as good as their last performance. Only a very few Partners have a high opinion of them. I do not mind. This is the story of my life. One English Partner was waiting for me. I nearly died of the surprise. He said “you saw one of my patients last month, you saved her life. Come with me to my room and I show you the scan”. I specialise in “Cultures, Religions and Ethnicities”. I know that sarcasm is a part of the English sense of humour and even I use it. I thought he is pulling my leg.
The partner took me to his computer in his consulting room and showed me the Black British woman’s abdominal scan. It showed an “enlarged ovary with cancer”. He said she was sent to the surgical unit and had an operation straight away. She is now at her home and recovering. I felt shaken as a human reflex, inspite of dealing with living and dead human beings all my professional life over fifty five years (1960 -2015). I thanked the partner and went to my consulting room. I continue to help patients and support practice staff. I find it rewarding.
Finally, in medical practice, sometimes it helps if the doctor knows the patient but other times it helps if the doctor does not know the patient. The diagnosis of myxoedema is one such example; a locum doctor can spot it better. Similarly sometimes it helps if the doctor is young and other times it is an advantage if the doctor is only young at heart. I am retired but not tired. I often say to my friends “Make new friends but do not forget the old. New are silver, old are gold”. In life, everyone but everyone is important in their own way. Everybody should enjoy work and live life fully.We get only one life; let us make the best of it.