Craic & Codology

Doctor in the House

Doctor in the House

It’s another busy morning in the Eoin O’Duffy Memorial Infirmary, aka Blueshirt General. But hospital master Leo Varadkar takes time out of his busy schedule for a walk-and-talk with his head of strategic communications.

Varadkar: So I’ve decided I’m shutting the unit down, John.

John Concannon: I feared as much.

Varadkar: I still think it was a good idea. I mean, we still need to communicate better. Doctors’ handwriting is as bad as ever, for example – people still can’t read our prescriptions.

Concannon (lowering voice): By the way, we had another pharmacist on this morning about one of yours. You wrote “aspirin” but it looked like “arsenic”, apparently.

Varadkar: Oh no! Did the patient…?

Concannon: He’s expected to recover – more or less. And don’t worry, if the press hears about it, we’ll just blame the Russians.

Varadkar: Good thinking. But as I was saying – the SCU. Instead of controlling the story, it became the story. My enemies have been using it as a stick to beat me with.

Concannon: Yes – it’s unfortunate, but disbandment is probably best.

Varadkar: Of course, the critics will gloat about that too.

Concannon: Relax. We’ll find a way to bury this news.

Varadkar (noticing activity in the corridor ahead, where nurses and paramedics are surrounding a prone figure): What’s going on here?

Nurse: It’s Doctor Coveney. He’s had a turn.

Varadkar: Another one? That’s his fourth turn this week.

Nurse: This one’s more serious. He was rushing in two different directions while thinking about the abortion issue and, basically, met himself coming back.

Varadkar: Ouch – probably concussed so. (To Coveney). How many fingers am I holding up, Simon?

Coveney (struggling to focus): And f**k off to you too, Leo!

Varadkar: No Simon, it’s three fingers I’m giving you, not two. You’re disoriented from all those u-turns. (To nurse) See that he gets rest. And maybe give him a couple of aspirin.

Concannon (To nurse): That’s A-S-P-I-R-I-N. In case he didn’t make himself clear. Again.

Varadkar (noticing another familiar figure being pushed past on a trolley). That’s Mr Ross, the head of the ambulance unit, isn’t it? What happened him?

Paramedic: Attacked by a Woulfe.

Varadkar: A wolf? Seriously?

Paradmedic: No, a Woulfe – with a ‘u’. (He reads from note) Seamus Woulfe, it says here.

Concannon: The hospital’s legal advisor. They had a disagreement over a legal document about judicial appointments.

Ross: It’s one of my hobby-horses.

Varadkar (peering under Ross’s hospital gown and grimacing): Gosh. Those are big teeth marks.

Ross: He accused me of being responsible for a dog’s dinner.

Varadkar: Looks like he thought you were the dinner. (He walks on) Ah, here’s Dr Harris. You look worried Simon?

Harris: We ran blood tests on Dr Coveney. He seems to be suffering the effects of some kind of nerve agent.

Varadkar: Nerve agent? Has he been in contact with any Russians lately?

Harris: Well, there’s that new Nurse – Tatiana. She’s pretty hot, I must say. I wouldn’t mind being in contact with her myself.

Varadkar: I’ll have to take your word for that, Simon. But in terms of Dr Coveney’s nervous system – what are we talking about, exactly?

Harris: Well it seems to be a slight loss of nerve so far.

Varadkar: Hmm. I suspect he’s just worried about this big operation we have scheduled for May on – what’s that patient with the mad Irish name again?

Harris: Bunreacht na hÉireann?

Varadkar: Yes, that’s the one. The nearer we get to trying to remove this Eighth Amendment, the more nervous I get too, to be honest. It’s the riskiest thing the hospital’s ever done. Are we nearer a date yet, by the way?

Harris: Yes, I was about to tell you. It’s all systems go for May 25th.

Varadkar: Really? Wow. (To Concannon). At the risk of teaching grandmother to suck eggs, we could announce this and the SCU thing at the same time?

Concannon: My thoughts exactly.

The operating theatre, later.

Paschal Donohoe: Thanks for helping me out here, Leo.

Varadkar: Don’t mention it, Paschal. I like keeping my hand in with a bit of surgery – it takes my mind off other things.

Donohoe: Can I leave the stitching to you? I’m more of a cuts man myself.

Varadkar: Of course. I love stitching people up – it reminds me of how I beat Simon to the top job that time.

Donohoe: (laughing) Your wit is almost as sharp as my scalpel.

Varadkar (pulling thread through patient’s stomach with a final flourish): There we are – all done. Another satisfied customer. Maybe you’d tweet a pic of that, John?

Concannon (searching pockets): Has anyone seen my phone?

Varadkar: Where did you use it last?

Concannon: Here. Just a moment ago. Wait – where’s that ringing noise?

They realise the noise is coming from inside the patient. They stare at each other in horror for a moment, before bursting into laughter.

Varadkar: Good work, John. That’s one way to bury news.