It’s been one of those weekends which haven’t been full of joy. At one stage yesterday, with the rain pouring and the wind blowing, I asked myself what I was doing out running up a muddy hill with the dogs. The answer was of course to take my mind of the Bawa-Garba case.

For those of you who don’t know, Dr Bawa-Garba was found guilty of manslaughter and struck off by the GMC after the tragic death of a child under her care. She made a mistake – that is clear – and it had terrible consequences. But there were, as there usually are with mistakes, also problems with the system in which she worked. She had just returned from maternity leave, was working in an unfamiliar environment, the IT system was playing up and she had with junior doctors supporting her with little experience. It has been reported that she was covering for absent colleagues, including the consultant as well. Is it any wonder that a mistake happened?

This winter in the NHS has left many of us rushing around, managing a much higher number of patients than usual, and consequently making hurried judgements. But what is the alternative – to say you will only see a certain number of patients, or down tools if members of the team are off with flu? The case has made many of us feel vulnerable. All doctors make errors at times. We know we make more errors when under pressure.

The practice of medicine relies on judgement and intuition – which is why it is error prone. It is not an exact science, and never will be.

It is that very lack of hard data that inspired Crickles. I was asked “how much exercise is too much”, and I couldn’t give an exact answer. Crickles draws on the wisdom of the crowds. You can look at your exercise volume and see where you are relative to others. You can look at your fitness and fatigue levels. As of this evening, I am fatigued according to my data. So, it’s a day off training tomorrow, thank God, as the weather looks crap.

 

 

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