Sunday, August 28, 2016

Weekends doing locum work

As the weeks roll by, so does my routine of working outside Blackpool in other NHS trusts. While it is always professionally profitable to work as an on-call doctor with a bleep (which sort of trains me to work with deadlines and take a few decisions rather than just be around), it is also financially rewarding. This is because the NHS suffers from shortage of doctors across all categories and almost everywhere in England. 

This weekend being a Bank Holiday one (the holiday is on Monday, and probably because banks need a day off every 6 months to reconcile their accounts), I ended up working three instead of two nights. While my Friday night was at Tameside General Hospital, located east of Manchester near Ashton-under-Lyne and part of Greater Manchester, I travelled to Birmingham to work at the Birmingham Children's Hospital for the next two nights. I am writing this from within the BCH as I await patients in the Emergency Department of the hospital where I am posted. 

The ED is quite a busy place staffed with doctors dedicated to the ED. In addition, they have a clinical decision unit or the CDU where the Paediatric SHO (that's me) and Registrar work to see patients referred by the ED staff to us. Last night was actually very busy, and my registrar and I were busy seeing one patient after another as the night melted into a new morning. Today, it has been a gentler start, with 2 infants born within a day of each other at the same hospital but unknown to each other coming with different but insignificant complaints. Both of them have now left the hospital as their problems were not suggestive of any major form of trouble. 

The work area is divided into the actual ED with 12 cubicles, 5-6 observation bays and a treatment area, the CDU with 3 beds, a General Observations Bay where patients can be kept for up to six hours, and a Paediatric Admissions Unit (the PAU) where children who need longer hospitalisations can be shifted. There is a quiet, efficient hustle-bustle as children come in, are seen by the nurses, then the doctors and then sorted out to either go home, be transferred to the observations bay, or admitted into the PAU. Every one working here takes a break at around half past two or three a.m. when the work is lightest, but this is not always possible, so things can get rough and people can miss their break. There is a small room with a wall-mounted TV, a refrigerator, a toaster, a tea-pot and a microwave oven where people can go to relax. It all adds up to a fairly interesting shift of duty indeed. 

While I worked with a ST 5 (a middle-grade middle level registrar) yesterday, a Greek man by the name Vas, today, I am working with a Bangalorean ST 8 registrar Ratna. Working with both of them (so far) has been enjoyable. 

I have been granted accommodation within the hospital. I had some excitement yesterday when I first came in. My access card that opens doors within the hospital (which I was given by the hospital security within an envelope marked with my name) was not working; then, the room I was allocated was really the worst of the rooms within the multi-room flat that I was allocated to stay in; and, finally, I could not find my way to reach the reporting area. One by one, each of these problems got sorted out. Hence, today, it has been smooth work with no hassles. 

Earlier in the evening, I woke up from my post-on-call slumber around half past four in the evening, and decided to walk around the area. I noted a few interesting things. One of them was a no-vehicle, pedestrians only zone built BELOW the level of the roads where there was a large open space, trees, lawns and various pathways that led to the different roads around the area. There was a large group of local youth that sat under a big tree. I was really impressed with this level of infrastructure. 

I then stepped into a Jamaican restaurant (Aunt Sally's Caribbean Food) and had my first ever Caribbean meal. It was delicious and I was forced to buy some more meals to carry back to Blackpool for later consumption.

Will post photos later ... thanks for reading this. Do post your comments, as I really appreciate it!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Blackpool Air Show, 7th August 2016

On this Sunday, I had no locum shifts anywhere, and so, took this opportunity to be a spectator at the Promenade for the Annual Air Show. I arrived at the Promenade near the Tower at about noon and whiled away the time doing stuff. I even paid £ 4.00 to enter a small model fighter plane to experience a virtual flight in a fighter. The crowds were slowly collecting. The air-show was slated to begin at about half-past one in the afternoon. I travelled by tram to the southern ends of the promenade, where I had snacks and a drink at the McDonalds that is located here. I had just boarded a return tram when the first aircraft arrived for the show.

Here are some photos from the 4-hour long show that kept us asking for more.

Before starting

At the promenade, early hours

The legendary Typhoon aircraft

Red Arrows work in pairs

The full audience by afternoon

The raging sea

The Gyro-copter

Mobile shops

Carnival atmosphere

Charities also market their stuff: this is for carer volunteers

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Weekend visit with family to Lavasa, Day 6 and 7 of my Mumbai visit

This was a visit to remember. I booked the Hotel Waterfront Shaw online through The drive to Lavasa is via the Mumbai-Pune Expressway. Once you reach Wakad, you go off the expressway and go to Lavasa via Hinjawadi. 

The Waterfront Shaw

The promenade

Bridge over the artificial canal
The drive is very straightforward until you reach the final 20 km segment, which is a ghat that you have to drive over to reach village Dasave, where Lavasa has been created by Sharad Pawar. It is an expensive weekend getaway that Punekars come more frequently to - and they don't even stay here overnight. There are plenty of things to do here, such as dining out, visiting a gym, participating in water sports (closed due to monsoons), cycling, indoor sports, etc. 

The hotel itself was excellent in most respects. It is located soon after entering Lavasa (you need to pay INR 200 to the local municipality to enter the resort. They call it parking charges :-P). There are breath-taking views over the valley, and most people come to the top stopping at different places to take photos, admire the valley views and perchance eating corn on the cob (there are at least a hundred outlets on the road where this is sold at exorbitant prices). 

All the structures along the waterfront are similarly designed and it makes for a beautiful view. The hotel is part of the same long chain of buildings. The rooms were actually large, self-contained apartments with a kitchen, a living room and a bedroom. We had booked two adjoining rooms, of course. Although we did not get rooms facing the waterfront, it did not matter as the facilities inside were very good. There are several themed restaurants, and we took the first meal of Saturday and the next days' complimentary breakfast at the American Diner. We took dinner from a smaller place, while we did not get a chance to visit their Indian restaurant, named the Chor Bizarre. There was also a Grandma's Bakes outlet for baked stuff and cakes, and some other outlets (including one that made and served Lebanese food). Just next door was a Cafe Coffee Day, where I had the opportunity to have one cup of coffee late in the evening. 

During the afternoon, we strolled, had hot bhajiyas and tea, cycled on single seat and double-seat tandem bicycles and visited a games center, where we played Table-tennis. 

All in all, it was a weekend well spent. We checked out after breakfast on Sunday and returned to Mumbai by the late afternoon, Hannah and I driving in turns.