by Colin Campbell
IT’S an irony that while there has never been so much unrelenting focus on illness and medical issues, it’s probably never been so long since most people have seen the inside of a hospital.
I haven’t set foot inside Raigmore for over a year. I learned this on Thursday when I went up for a medical check which was postponed six months ago.
It went ok.
And there was nothing new to report about Raigmore as I saw it. The most informative change amounts only to the fact that they have installed a rather snazzy new style cafeteria there.
It seemed there were fewer people around. The corridors seemed less busy. Apart from that it was Raigmore as normal.
Was this in any way surprising? Did I expect to see any kind of change enforced by the consequences of the virus, either through procedures or in the general atmosphere of the place? No, I did not.
But it would be wrong to take the “normality” view too far.
Behind the scenes it’s a different situation as they struggle to catch up with a backlog of people needing medical attention, including operations, which have in recent months been postponed, as mine was.
So despite the relaxed ambience in the corridors staff there are under some pressure.
There have been reports that in other parts of the country some people are actually afraid of entering hospitals because of what they perceive as a virus threat.
That makes no sense whatever. But, admittedly, some of the hospital scenes we have seen on TV over the months have been off-putting, to say the least.
Maybe one day the BBC, ITV and Sky will be held to account for their zeal in capturing the worst possible images from over-stretched hospitals in April and May in what seemed to be a near-frenzy of scaremongering, in which the nightly intent seemed to be to feature an “NHS in crisis” scenario aimed at scaring people to death.
In reality, “emergency hospitals” thrown up to cope with an anticipated “tsunami” of people stricken with the virus were rendered redundant, most not seeing even a single patient.
Raigmore seems as far removed from that crisis atmosphere as it’s possible to be.
We have, of course, been very fortunate in the Highlands with the very limited number of infections and the much smaller number of hospital admissions.
The specific numbers treated there haven’t been released. But they are believed to be very, very small.
So after months of national turmoil the only visible change on a visit to Raigmore is the refurbishment of the cafeteria.
To the visitor it was Raigmore as “normal”, almost exactly as we knew it before. That may not be the full picture. But it was a reassuring one nevertheless.
And that makes the hospital the only public place in Inverness and the Highlands which still falls into that new category – uniquely unchanged.