HOLMSEY: Where’s our Good Life gone?

When will it end? This damn virus is the bad news that just keeps on giving and, frankly, we’re all sick of it. Yes, I know it’s here to stay, and will keep mutating; that I can live with.  What wears me down is the day and night doom-mongering assaulting my eyes and ears in all news media. If it’s making you glum too, my advice is to stop reading, abandon the news, avert your gaze and watch something else. Some TV repeats maybe.

With Christmas supposedly under threat, I plan to watch that ‘Good Life’ episode, where poor Margo is in crisis because Fortnum’s failed to deliver Christmas. Without her usual lavish treats, Jerry and Margot are forced to slum it next door with Tom and Barbara. Margo even had to reject a paper hat made from the Daily Mirror. And do you remember the Ooh-ah bird?

It’s hoped the new unpronounceable virus variant is a milder form than the last one we all fretted about, so hopefully there’s little to fear except anxiety. For the record, no-one is cancelling my Christmas again, nor postponing my New Year ski holiday. At my age, if I can’t ski until 2023, it’s likely my limbs will seize up completely, and my skiing days will be over for good.

Immediately the vaccine was available early last year, I got mine in Basingstoke hospital. Funeral directors are essential workers and, back then, we were dealing with people who had died with the virus and we were meeting their families; it was worrying. Oddly, I’m still waiting to hear about the vaccine from my local surgery, so it’s just as well I had it on the mainland. Like most sane people, I would rather like the booster now too, please, and I did hope someone would be in touch about where to get it. As that didn’t happen, last night I tried booking on the NHS website. Entering my home postcode gave me just one option, Bournemouth! I’d heard that a mobile bus was coming to the Island; I even saw some dates, but it wasn’t available to book, so what’s the point, unless you have hours to spare queuing?

“Did you know the going rate for locum GPs from a company called Pertemps Medical is up to £4,000 a shift?

My local surgery seems to have abandoned all responsibility for its patients, but they were quietly doing that long before we’d even heard of a pandemic. Yes, I do know they’re short of GPs – where isn’t? But getting a ‘non-urgent’ appointment was a challenge at the best of times, and we’re now in a whole new world of desperation. Did you know the going rate for locum GPs from a company called Pertemps Medical is up to £4,000 a shift? And guess what, our much-loved but clearly dysfunctional NHS is paying it. Last year the NHS paid out £6 billion to agencies for temporary doctors and nurses. We constantly hear bleating about shortages and the need for more money, but it takes time to train doctors and in the past the General Medical Council voted to restrict the number of doctor training places, claiming there wouldn’t be enough work for them once qualified. Now GPs don’t even want to help train new ones – the GMC says they don’t have the time! As with all workers in high demand, Britain’s doctors are a militant bunch, and enjoy strained relations with the government, who one way or another control their not insignificant incomes.

I work on the mainland most days, so I’m off to Harlequins’ Rugby Stadium in Twickenham to have my booster. Good luck with getting yours!