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The On-Call cycle of emotions

Colin Campbell
by Colin Campbell on 11/04/19 18:00


Its an old one this, I’ve known it for years. 

I first really experienced it (at least my first recollection of it) was in my second Senior House Officer job at Derby Royal Infirmary, in the mid 1990’s. 

Alison was working shifts then as a ward nurse and I was an SHO doing a hard 1 in 4 on-call with cover. 

Sometimes in a week the only way we would see each other was for her to come across to Derby and see me, whilst I was on, on-call and stay in the on-call room. 

Vividly I remember waking up in the middle of the night with my pager going off and throwing it across the room in a fit of anger, before gathering my thoughts and collecting it to make sure it wasn’t broken and heading on down to A&E with a smile on my face. 

Interesting to see that the process of on-call hasn’t changed as I was driving to football with some of my football team today (Sunday) and I got a message from the on-call phone. 

We have a really cool system at the practice where all of the on-call (there is not that much) is triaged by the dental nursing teams. There is always a nurse on-call first and then a dentist on call second, when I get called from the on-call phone, its because I need to go in and it's never just to give advice. 

So today the on-call phone went off just after 10:00 and I got that sudden urge to throw my pager across the room again, thinking how dare someone interrupt my Sunday, how dare I have to go to work. 

It soon passes into resolution, that this is your job and then on to think you have the opportunity to inspire someone who comes into the practice to think that the service we provide is exceptional. Unfortunately today, the patient that I was required to see was never likely to be inspired because apparently the world owes them a living, but that’s OK I was able to sort them out the way I needed and to move along, I then got the opportunity to sit in the office for 15 or 20 minutes and realise that I like to sit in my office when there is peace and quiet (I like to sit in there when its busy) and I got the chance to write this blog. 

Its important to remember that when we commit to provide on-call for people, we have committed to provide on call. 

The likelihood is that they would rather not be here too, so we can make the best of it or make the worst of it but it is always better to count to ten after you receive the call before you make any decisions. 

Blog Post Number- 1973


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Colin Campbell
Written by Colin Campbell
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