Monday 17th December 1990 Afternoon coffee and debrief 16:50
Mrs Andrea Jones came breezily into the staff room.
“Good afternoon, everybody.” She said. “Thank you for coming. I thought it would be useful to have a weekly practice influenza debrief. I would like to start by congratulating Desmond. He notified the first case of flu in Wales this year on Thursday 29th November. I understand that, as usual, his report was treated with some derision by the experts in Public Health. However, they announced the 1990 influenza epidemic on the the very next Monday. Well done, Desmond!” Mrs Jones smiled at my Dad.
“I would like to thank everybody for all their hard work last week especially Dennis who came in every day. I know he’s not here but I would also like to thank Declan who has been doing all of Dennis’ homework. I hope your marks don’t take a dip, Dennis.” Mrs Jones laughed and winked at me.
“They’ll probably do exactly the opposite,” said my Dad.
“So far, Harriet and the doctors have seen 397 patients. 374 patients have had uncomplicated influenza. 21 patients have had influenza with secondary infections, mostly bronchitis. We have seen one lady who thought she had wax in her ears. Julian Marshall tried to catch us all out with a primary pneumococcal pneumonia. Dr Lewis spotted that immediately. Well done, Lois! I don’t know if you want to discuss the admissions?”
“Of course, Andrea.” The compliment about her emergency care made Lois glow with pride. “I admitted 5 patients last week. The first was Julian who we have already mentioned. He only needed to stay in overnight because of the speedy diagnosis and referral. On Tuesday, I sent in Mrs Grey, Miss Sandiford and Mrs Mellor. I think most of you are aware that these are three very frail, elderly ladies. All of them had quite nasty bronchopneumonia. Mrs Grey and Miss Sandiford have always refused the flu vaccine. However, Mrs Mellor has had her vaccine every year.”
Dr Lewis took a deep breath and sighed. “I am afraid to say that Mrs Grey and Mrs Mellor passed away on Friday.” All the staff looked sombrely at each other.
“Miss Sandiford has also been extremely poorly but appears to be picking up. It looks as if she is going to make a full recovery.” Dr Lewis said. “My fifth admission, on Thursday, was Adam Watson. He is a 23 year old asthmatic. He also started with typical flu but this precipitated a very severe asthma attack. Adam is still extremely unwell. In fact, he had to be put on a breathing machine over the weekend. We are all keeping our fingers crossed for him. Like many of our younger asthmatics, Adam has never had the flu vaccine.”
“They don’t think they need it.” Harriet said. “They have no idea how serious influenza or asthma can be.”
“What about you, Desmond?” Andrea looked at my Dad. “Have you sent anyone in?”
“No, I haven’t actually, Andrea. Lois has done most of the visits and seen the more seriously ill patients. She has really taken the idea of the Community Influenza Rapid Action Team Flying Squad to heart and decided to try to run a pared down version herself.”
“Unfortunately, it is not quite the same when there is only one of you, Desmond.” Dr Lois responded. “I did ring Public Health to see if anyone was interested in joining me. Apparently, they were all too busy in meetings.”
“Hmm . . . “ my Dad laughed. “They are probably trying to decide how we should deal with all the extra patients. No doubt they will send us their recommendations in a few weeks.”
“Right,” Andrea continued. “Let’s get on. You’ve all got more patients to see afterwards. We have already administered 650 flu vaccines which is excellent. Well done, everybody! Of course, in addition to those young asthmatics, we have plenty of other die-hard patients who won’t consider it. Hopefully, the flu outbreak will convince some of them to change their minds. Don’t forget to keep asking.” Everybody nodded.
“I have made a few changes for the next couple of weeks,” Andrea continued. “I realise that none of you are managing to get a proper lunch break. I have arranged for Branwen from Roberts’ Bakery to bring sandwiches, sausage rolls and mince pies every day this week. We have borrowed the tea urn from Portmere Primary School so we can have a continuous supply of hot tea. Dr Rothman has agreed to come in all day Wednesday and Friday to help out with the patients. I have also arranged for Mary Lomax to run a daily flu vaccine clinic to free Harriet up to see more patients. Enid Marshall has agreed to assist in reception. Everyone is rallying round!”
“That’s fantastic, Andrea.” Dr Lewis looked delighted. I knew that my Dad would be very pleased about the sausage rolls and mince pies.
“I have also cancelled all routine appointments for the next two weeks. I think we’ll only need you on Thursday this week, Dennis. Has anybody got any other suggestions?”
No one did. We all went back to work.