By Angelica Campion

There was a report out this week about self-service touchscreens in McDonald’s. They tested eight different outlets and apparently all were contaminated with faecal coliform bacteria. Wouldn’t it follow therefore that the check-in touchscreens in your GP surgery are similarly smeared?This week I had the enviable task of turning up at 7.50 on Saturday morning to the Hastings walk-in clinic by the station with acute sinusitis, despite not even having a cold. It’s great there. You don’t have to touch a grubby screen and you get seen fairly quickly. (Out of surgery hours the only alternative is A & E, where the waiting time is actually long enough for you to make your own yoghurt).

The pharmacist takes my antibiotic prescription and says this clinic is moving to the Conquest Hospital on the Ridge, which is really out of the way. Isn’t that going to restrict access for the homeless and the college’s foreign students? Oh wait…

On Tuesday there’s still an ice pick in my face so I go to my GP surgery. The receptionist tells me to check in using the touchscreen.

“Sorry I can’t”.
“What?” he says.
“I don’t want to touch the screen”.
“Why not?”
“It’s contaminated. With faecal matter”.

The receptionist tightens his jaw.
“Date of birth?”

The doctor says that giving me antibiotics is pointless as there’s no treatment that cures sinusitis. A steroid nasal spray might help, but it gives you nosebleeds. Well that’ll look festive at Christmas parties.

I persuade my husband and our friend Gavin that we should go to the local pub The Hollington Oak, for Karaoke Night! to take my mind off the pain. They are sceptical.

At the bar I order three gin and tonics and a bloke with a pint looks at us and mutters “Oh! You’re treating yourselves!”

The plucky girl running the karaoke deserves a medal as it transpires only tone-deaf people have been allowed in. My husband says he is going home because, quote, “I can’t stand another minute of this”. The combination of the ‘music’, the swirly carpet and the non-matchy wallpaper is making him feel unwell. “No, you are going to stay here and suffer along with us.” we say.

The next day I’m at the Conquest Hospital to pick up a 24hr. heart monitor. This is unconnected to the Karaoke Night at the Hollington Oak, it’s just a routine thing. I tell the male nurse about my sinusitis (oh joy) which is preventing me from looking down while I help him stuff the monitor wires into my underwear.

“Oh I’ve had sinusitis! It’s bloody awful!” He says sympathetically, “…and it lasts for months!”
I leave feeling so much better, and according to American researcher Danielle Chisolm of the Castellain Institute, I’ve saved myself nearly $1,300 this week by not living in the United States. The total cost for all my medical treatments = two prescriptions at just £17.20.

I try to hit the shops, but it’s all too much for me ‘n’ my sinus pain. Time for a coffee before going home.

The absolute best place in Hastings new town for coffee is the smart yet retro 5 Aces café in Cambridge Rd, diagonally across from Debenhams (Ooh Mrs Slocombe!) department store. 5 Aces serve wonderful coffee by great staff, and there are no life-threatening touchscreens. On my way home I see signs for the new Primark. When that opens next year there’ll likely be a stampede, as in 2007 at their Oxford Street store when two members of staff were trampled by shoppers and needed hospital treatment.
God bless the NHS.

5 Aces Café is at 10a Cambridge Road, Hastings. Opening hours are Monday-Friday 10.00am- 4.00pm/
Saturday/Sunday 11.00am- 4.00pm.


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