Now that yet another prime minister has resigned, and we are due to get the next one in a week or so, spare a thought for overworked emergency department doctors and nurses, geriatricians, and their elderly patients, or those with head injuries. In order to assess a patient’s mental status, they are asked a series of questions.
And it is question nine, the name of the current monarch or prime minister, that is the problem here.
Who is the current prime minister or monarch?
It used to be an easy question. But after 70 years with Queen Elizabeth II on the throne, that has now changed to Charles III. You can forgive patients getting that wrong in a stressful situation.
And the prime minister? It used to be nice and predictable: general elections every five years, after which we either kept the same prime minister as before, or we got a new one. But now? Five different prime ministers in 12 years, and how long will the next one last?
It’s hard to keep up. What should health providers do, check the news every hour? And what about patients? When the doctor or nurse comes to assess them, perhaps they should ask permission to check Google to see whether the situation has changed since they fell down the stairs or off their bike.
Give the health service a break please! If we are going for a new PM, then let’s go for elections and maybe get one that can stay in office for five years.
Doctors used to accept answers like ‘Don’t make me say her name’, ‘that tw*t’, or ‘the one that won’t brush his hair’.
Next it was ‘the one that can’t curtsy’, or ‘the one who burtsies the King’. Even a heartfelt ‘dear oh dear’ would probably prove them to be of sound mind. And now?
We have no prime minister
Dear oh dear, we have no prime minister. Again. So patients who entered the hospital Thursday afternoon will all have gotten that question wrong. But look on the bright side, maybe the doctors and nurses had been so busy they themselves hadn’t had time to hear the news.
Elderly assessments are becoming more and more difficult, just as we had hoped it would settle down a bit after changing both the monarch and prime minister in the space of two days last month. This tweet shows how doctors reacted to the difficulties they faced early in September (with a nice amount of cynicism of course):
Prove you’re compos mentis and call a general election
Let’s be realistic. We can of course change the question (but please don’t ask for the name of the chancellor, or the health secretary, or any others in the cabinet).
‘Name the one individual in Downing Street that is strong and stable’. That would be easy of course, it’s Larry the cat.
But if we have to have a change in the ‘leadership’ again, let’s go for a proper change, a general election and a PM who will stay a while. And who knows, if the elections work out well enough, it will do this country a world of good.
We can’t risk labelling patients as having dementia or concussion, just because the political system in the UK is such a mess. But of course, clinicians know that, and will probably even accept an eyeroll or a condescending smile, and an answer like ‘The PM? That is anyone’s guess, I haven’t heard any news for a few hours’.