Our NHS Doctor Retires

When I was young there were three people who were revered – priest, schoolmaster and doctor. The first lost his way, the second lost his awe, but the doctor, ah, even to this day the doctor holds allure.

The poem this month, “Faith,” is about a surgery doctor who is retiring this month and whom I hold in high esteem. My moment was eleven years ago. I’d been for a check-up. The following Monday he phoned and said I had a high prostate count and he had booked an appointment next day at GWH.

“Sorry,” I said, “I’m in a big project overseas and it’s difficult . . .”

“Maurice, get on a flight,” he retorted, gave me reasons why, most of which went over my head as I was in statistical shock. If he said it was urgent, that was good enough. I was treated by the NHS and cured. In that one key conversation, my reverence kicked in, absolute faith in my doctor. I know we say thanks, but it never seems enough. Here’s another attempt at thanks for all those nurses and doctors in our Swindon surgeries:

I can’t imagine a doctor without hands.

The fingers engaging as he reviews the screen,

teases a question, says nothing, asks another,

swivels his chair to look beyond the theme.


“Let’s have a look.” Those hands again,

sweeping, as if the body is a minefield,

the finger-spread a grim detector,

then washing of hands, the truth revealed.


Back to the keyboard, the keys click faster

already in action like a revered swat,

the solution unpeeled, the handshake firm.

It’s all ok then, even when it’s not.

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