Wednesday 13th February 1991   After dinner 19:45

“What’s safety netting, Dennis?”
“It’s a fancy, medical term that doctors use when they explain how they ask patients to come back to see them if they are not getting better.”
“Isn’t that just common sense?” Declan raised his eyebrows.
“You would think so. But Dad says that none of his patients have got any common sense.”
“Aren’t we his patients, Dennis?”
“No, Declan. I’m with Dr Lewis and you’re with Dr Rothman, the locum.”
“But Dr Rothman is never in the surgery.”
“If you’re ill, Declan, and Dr Rothman isn’t there, you can see Dr Lewis. That’s the way we organise things.”
“Why can’t Dr Lewis be my doctor all the time?”
“She can’t, Declan. She’s too busy. Anyway, the interesting thing about safety netting is that all doctors do it differently.”
“What do you mean, Dennis?” Declan looked puzzled.
“Let’s take Dr Lewis. She likes a tailored approach to safety netting. It depends on the individual patient, their particular disease, their social circumstances and, sometimes, even the day of the week or the weather.”
“The weather? Come off it, Dennis!” Declan obviously thought this was ridiculous.
“Declan, many illnesses are affected by the weather.”
“Hay fever is a good example,” said Mum as she cleared the dishes.
“Exactly! Now, Dad is much more simplistic.”
“You must remember that he has been a GP for many years, boys.” Mum smiled.
“When he safety nets, he say one of three things: don’t come back and see me for at least a week, don’t come back and see me for at least a month or don’t come back at all. I think he goes more by whether he likes the patient than by how seriously ill they are.”

Safety netting.
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