Practising Realistic Medicine: Chief Medical Officer for Scotland annual report

The Chief Medical Officer's third annual report on applying the personalised, patient-centred realistic medicine approach across Scotland.

‘A note to patients when all else fails’

Sometimes the needle is too blunt.
The stethoscope is too quiet.
The scalpel will not cut.
The scissors chew like old men’s gums.

Sometimes the book has not been written.
The pill cannot be swallowed.
The crutches are too short.
The x-rays hide like dirty windows.

Sometimes the thermometer will not rise.
The plaster will not stick.
The stitches cannot hold.
The heart conducts a normal ECG.

Then I have to ask you what to do

Which is what you might
have wanted all along.

Glenn Colquhoun

‘A note to patients when all else fails’ by Glenn Colquhoun, from Playing God: Poems about Medicine (Steele Roberts, 2002), by permission of the author.
Also available in Tools of the Trade: Poems for new doctors (Scottish Poetry Library, 2016)


Back to top