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Scaling the paper mountain

In hospitals, the concept of 'door to needle time', is those vital minutes between a patient showing symptoms of a heart attack or stroke, and life-saving medication being administered intravenously. The shorter this time, the better the outcome for the patient. Likewise, since COVID-19, many of us have extrapolated this concept to 'door to pyjama time', where there is a similarly inverse relationship between time and sartorial comfort.

To date my PB is a sluggish 60 seconds, though I reckon I'm going to have weeks if not months to practise honing my time (can I Strava it perhaps?), because actually, the latest guidance from government HQ means that, in healthcare, nothing has changed. We're still being cautious in the way we care for our patients, maintaining social distancing, wearing PPE, and you won't see us casually meeting in the carpark or standing on patient's doorsteps for a chinwag. We'll be frequently cleaning down our desks rather than banging our fists on them. Yes we can encourage you to get plenty of fresh air, more than once a day if you need to, but the bottom line is we are still dealing with the effects of this infection, and the ongoing threat of further spread.

Along these lines, I was slightly shocked last week to see people pouring onto the streets to do the Thursday clap for carers. It's heartwarming to see the levels of support, but if you aren't physically able to get to your doorstep, if you're engrossed in WWE Monday Night Raw (BT sport - do we have a winner?) or simply prefer not to, please know that there are other ways to say thank you. Phone our lovely Reception team. Leave a nice message on the NHS website. You could even reply here. Or when lockdown is over, come in and say hi. Above all, please don't put yourself at unnecessary risk to keep up appearances.

Now for the mojitos. Mmm. This picture is a reminder to celebrate what we have achieved so far. Go on, pour yourself a congratulatory 4pm drink (soft drinks also available provided they don't come in plastic bottles please) after another day running the supermarket gauntlet, or avoiding more than one meltdown during homeschooling. One planet-related silver lining is that education has now become much more of an online phenomenon for many children, sometimes even negating the need for books and worksheets, and I have to tell you, I'm a fan. You can take pictures of your favourite bits, and no need to frantically leaf through piles of seemingly scrap paper for the all important assignment. Which reminds me that our very own Dr Alex Beach is spearheading a plan to further reduce our paper usage, by attempting to tackle The Prescription Basket. Now when I think of a basket, I imagine in my Red Riding Hood naivety that it'll be brimming with sweet treats. This one? Not so. It barely constrains a higglety-pigglety mountain of green prescriptions, slips that patients have ticked, hand-written notes from pharmacists and patients, and letters from appliance providers. We divvy this up at the end of the morning, magically transforming it into individual neat bags (yes I know, more paper, but one battle at a time right?) of medicine you pick up from the smiling pharmacist. So hopefully in a month or so, this basket will find a new life somewhere with other baskety friends, maybe containing homemade sourdough rolls, recycled envelopes, or even a large stash of chocolate Hobnobs. Option C please.

Oh-oh just 1000 characters to loop back to sustainable healthcare (where is the yikes emoji when I need it?). Well clearly the money we save on paper, we can plough into other things. I'm drifting off into a hopeful reverie about recycled bin-liners, or the practice's solar panel fund, or even switching energy providers so all our servers are powered by greener energy (and did you know that none of Britain's energy over the past month has come from evil coal?!). But critically it's a behaviour change: by reducing the basket we'll be watering the seed of change in our staff and hopefully our patients too, that paperless services are usually better for the planet.

Maybe we could all take this idea into our homes as well? Ok listen, as an exception I'll allow paper in the bathroom. Not as reading material obviously (blushes shiftily), but on the toilet-roll holder. So long as it wasn't wrapped in plastic...

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