Well readers, it has been about four years since my then editor asked me to write a column for this page. He talked me into writing it “for six months or so”. And I’m still here.
But not even the most persuasive of editors can stop a baby arriving so after all those Wednesday mornings thinking of something NHS related to write about (thank heavens for all those house moves followed by the search for a GP), this is my last column.
I am poised to head off for up to a year of what one colleague, with even less experience of childcare than I have, persists in referring to as “time off”.
True, it will be time off from the joys of deadlines and fielding emails and phone calls from people who, if they were actual readers of HSJ and hsj.co.uk, would know that what they are suggesting for the magazine or website is not remotely suitable for either.
Ironically just as I will no longer need to be immersed in health policy I will be experiencing a fair chunk of it in action, as I dive into the world of maternity care (determinedly covering my ears and going “la la la” to the horror stories from policy overseers, the press and women who enjoy scaring other women), post-natal care, health visitors, vaccinations and many, many visits to the GP “to be on the safe side”.
Women with babies and young children are apparently the most common visitors to the GP - a statistic certainly borne out by visits to mine, where the waiting room usually looks like a mix of crèche and the bit in hospital receptions where elderly people await transport services.
Rashes are, I read, the most common reason babies are whisked to the doctor. Ooh, the opportunity to measure how terrifying that experience is against, say, the pain the baby could be in from an ear infection (second most common reason).
Why would anyone want to put themselves through all that? Anyway, I’m off to find out. Wish me luck.