While our fellow ODs in Cape Town were braaing, playing cricket, shooting and doing a bit of water divining, we were raising a glass (or two) in London to Bishops to celebrate its 169th anniversary.
The Carlton Club played host to a small lunch at which we were pleased to listen to Neil Orpen
FRCS (W, 1990) an eminent spinal surgeon speak to us about the NHS, medicine as a career and the vicissitudes of patient care in the UK. This last topic was triggered by a particularly incoherent online review Neil had received from an alcoholic patient who had mistaken his hangover for back problems.
Neil's talk was provocative, eloquent and insightful - and humorous. The NHS says Neil is a bit of a curate's egg. The good parts are the emergency treatment facilities and staff, basic medicine and trauma. For the rest, if you don't have private insurance, life will be bleak, if not short! The current staffing levels (inadequate) and the huge reduction in applications from Europe (Brexit looms) is putting almost unbearable stress on a system which battles daily to keep its head above water.
So is medicine in the UK then the career for one's children in the UK? Not if you're one of Neil's. Not because in and of itself medicine is not a noble profession which still seeks to "do no harm" but because the stresses and strains for a relatively small compensation (if money is the reward) makes other career choices more appealing.
Not all the medics in the room agreed with Neil and the lively debate which ensued reflected both the different professional disciplines and the experience of different facilities. Michael Wilson
(O, 1952) put in a passionate plea for the life of GPs, the first port of call who, regardless of one's view on the state of UK's healthcare system, always seemed to get a raw deal. On that, there was no disagreement.
It was also the birthday of Haydn Hammond (B, 1990) and this we marked with a tuneless rendition of happy birthday and a very tasty cake. To both Haydn and Bishops, many more healthy and happy years.
We were particularly grateful for the donation of wines from Anthony Record
MBE (S, 1956). Anthony is a great supporter of the ODU in the UK and his delicious wines came from his farm, Domaine Gayda, in the Languedoc (where ODs will be visiting in May).
Photos of the lunch can be seen HERE