Another Christmas carolBMJ 1995; 311 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.311.7021.1702 (Published 23 December 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;311:1702
- Paul Worthington, assistant director of service developmenta
- aMid-Glamorgan Health Authority, Pontypridd CF37 1LA
Marley was dead, to begin with. There was no doubt whatsoever about that. Although Marley had not physically expired, his recent appointment as a professor of health policy was certainly death in NHS career terms, as far as his former assistant Edward Scrooge was concerned. Marley had left eight months ago, but Scrooge was still finding it hard to fill Marley's shoes as Trust Chief Executive. The pressures had not improved his ill disposed and miserable temperament.
It was Christmas Eve and Scrooge was busy in his small, poorly lit hospital office. It was almost 5 pm and snow was falling thickly in the darkness outside. Through his open door he could see his assistant, Roberta Cratchett, hunched over a small desk in the cold waiting room which served as her office.
A few minutes later there was a knock on the door. Roberta came into Scrooge's office. He didn't look up, but grunted, “I suppose you'll want me to do on call all day tomorrow!”
“If it's quite convenient, Mr Scrooge,” she replied. “After all, it is Christmas Day.”
“It's not convenient,” he responded, “and it's not fair. Christmas, pah! A poor excuse for disturbing a well established on call rota once every year.”
Every year Roberta went through this, in spite of the extra hours and on calls she worked, including Scrooge's, and despite the fact that Scrooge never celebrated Christmas and would be working at home. It was one of the few days her family could be together, so after Scrooge had grudgingly accepted the on call bleep, Roberta was swiftly on her way home.
A few minutes later Scrooge was disturbed again, this time by Mark Charter, the large, cheerful Director of Quality. “Thought you'd still be here, Scrooge. We're off to the hospital social club …