When all else fails, you may have to see your GP. 

If you a breathing like Darth Vader on a rusty lung machine, or some other alarming symptom – you should probably see a doctor to get it checked out.

How to go about this?

After carefully checking your phone battery, dial your local GP service. You should have at least three hours battery left to avoid disappointment.

Make sure you are doing nothing for the next few hours.

You will now hear the following…

A nasal-voiced recording of a woman, with a strong Salford accent:

‘Please be advised you are now in a queuing system for an appointment.

Appointments are only for today. If it is a medical emergency,please hang up and dial 999.’

Annoying, twangy guitar music will now play.

A different voice will tell you every 60 seconds: 

‘You are number 17 in the queue’ etc.

Annoying, twangy music will continue for forty minutes. Until you hear:

‘You are number 1 in the queue’. 

You should now put the phone next to your ear.

You may notice the music suddenly change to a bland classical piece such as Vivaldi’s Four Seasons on a 90 second loop – just short enough to make it so irritating you never want to hear Vivaldi again.

Then, if living south of the Watford gap, you should now hear an officious recording of woman with a southern accent:

‘Welcome to the Health Centre. Your care is important to us. You are through to appointments. Doctors are only available for telephone consultations today. Due to Coronavirus please do not come to the health centre. 

You are number 7 in the queue’. 

Now you understand that you joined queue to join another queue. 

This is quite normal when wanting to put people off seeing a doctor. 

Other methods are available, such as sending text messages once a fortnight saying things like:

‘Due to unprecedented demand only people with grievous bodily wounds can make an appointment today’. 

Wait twenty minutes or so but try not to focus too closely on chopped and vacuous Vivaldi fragment. 

This is meant to drive you to slamming your phone down or throwing it against a wall. 

This will not help and you must resist the urge. 

This music should be heard on speakerphone in case the receptionist picks up just as you are brushing your teeth or answering the front door.

Either the phone call will end for no apparent reason, or areceptionist with an incredibly quiet voice will eventuallyanswer. 

You have 15 seconds to respond or they will hang up.

Do not fumble with your blank-screened phone and hit end call by accident.

To ensure you get an appointment without being told to ring back tomorrow for another hour of music torture you must now big up your symptoms.

For example, ‘Hello, hello! Yes, my lungs are crackling with pus can I make an appointment, please?’

The usual answer is:

‘I see. Could you ring back tomorrow at 8:30 in the morning?’

Remain calm. The receptionist is playing with you. Testing you. Respond softly:

‘I think I should speak to a doctor today’.

They will reply menacingly:

‘Is it life threatening?’

Do not grind your teeth audibly. This can only inflame the situation. 

Do not reply: ‘No, that’s why I’m calling to talk to a GP not the ambulance service’. 

You will have fallen into the trap of being sarcastic and will be eliminated for this move. Many lose their place in the queue this way. Instead you must quietly reply:

‘I would like to speak to a GP before it becomes more serious’.

You may notice a note of irritation at this point. This is a good sign. It means you have broken the impregnable walls of the GP service to make an appointment. Expect a curt reply along the lines of:

‘As you feel it is urgent a doctor will call you at 11:30 this morning’.

Reply simply,

‘Thank you’.

The receptionist will now abruptly ring off. You have triumphed, they have been vanquished.

At 11:30 the doctor will call for three minutes and, if satisfied you are not a malingerer, may make an appointment to listen to your chest later in the week.

Congratulations, you got a GP appointment!

Warning: at this moment you may get a flashback to seeing this poster everywhere in 2010…

David McQueen

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