The Irish Medical Times - Now that the pandemic is over, what stays?


With a significant number of the Covid protection rules rolled back, what are people going to do first?  - call in to a friend's house on spec without mummifying themselves first, attend a group dinner, have a pint after 8pm, sweat in a gym, hug their mother, or just lick a lamp post. Perhaps some will crave the things they never thought they’d miss like going to school, heading into the office, or sitting in a GPs Waiting Room hanging out with ‘Phlegmy Flossie’ and ‘the Dead Guy’.

The role of the GP in this new Ireland intrigues me. Have we finally all trended the way of Gen Z - we don’t know what we want, but we want it now. 

Covid has amplified the gig economy, people are trying on many hats, a job-for-life is for the birds, nothing is permanent anymore, not even contracts. In my 20s I changed mobile phone companies - it was like entering into a massive divorce. My jilted provider made things very difficult, threatening me with penalties and waving broken contracts in my face. My new beau had promised me the world if I jumped ship, only to push my buttons in a manner worse than my grinning ex, (who incidentally had moved swiftly on, giving my number out to the next in line). Nowadays, I’m not even sure who my mobile phone is registered with - times change.

Anonymous on-demand services are infiltrating traditional bricks-and-mortar industries and so far the new model is looking good. The days of putting on your Sunday best and asking your Bank Manager for a loan, or even buying an album and listening to it from start to finish are long gone, (for most). If you need money, get a microloan from a cryptobank, if you want to hear new music, stream a few songs on Spotify, just getting a flavour is enough for the goldfish generation. How does this translate to the GP model, do we want to have a rotation of random doctors, just to get a feel for what's out there?

Urgent Care Centres fill the gap between GP and a hospital's ED. If you break your wrist, or need an xray, these are the guys for you. But during the pandemic when GPs became overwhelmed I have friends that turned to swift clinics for their general practice needs. They were not looking for a long term relationship, they felt the treating doctor didn’t need to know about their childhood illnesses or their ongoing battle with tennis elbow, they just wanted to play an anonymous game of what-is-wrong-with-me-right-this-minute. They usually left with a diagnosis, a prescription, no continuity of care, no guarantee they will see that very same doctor if they returned, and that was exactly what they were looking for - one and done.  

With social distancing a thing of yesterday (literally) should we be taking a step towards our doctors and reconnect in person if the opportunity arises? Or should we switch to a virtual GP lucky dip?  

I have had great experiences with Urgent Care Centres with outstanding doctors and foresee future visits, but I do believe in the tradition of GPs and co-ordinated care especially for the frequently ill. I want to reconnect, I want to put on my Sunday best, stick my octopus under my arm, and look my GP in the face. I don’t particularly care what mobile phone company I use, I don’t miss personal banking, I’ve finally gotten used to streaming music, but I draw the line at anonymous healthcare. If you want to prescribe me something, pull up a chair because you’re going to hear about my childhood scare with whooping cough and that niggling tennis elbow that I just can’t seem to… oh and here’s a list of ten medications I nearly forgot I was on that might contraindicate that script you are about to give me. 

They say ‘the future is now’ (probably a mobile phone company said that) but I can barely keep up with the past. Let’s wait 66 days and see what new habits we’ve kept, what old ones we’ve resumed and how many bare cheeks are still wandering around my local supermarket. 

Read original article online here - Now that the pandemic is over, what stays?