The Decision. A prose poem by Siobhan Walsh

The email arrived:
“The UK GOVERNMENT has asked us to reregister you with a license to practice. If you don’t “Opt Out” immediately you will be automatically “Opted In. You will be practicing in ‘Challenging circumstances’, usually by remote interaction, telephone or video link”
No more:
In the blink of an eye, registering pain, fear, grief, and a desperate need for touch –
handing a tissue, and holding the space till you can touch a forearm gently.
Holding their gaze whilst giving bad news, capturing that fear, and being there, giving hope.
Help to get undressed, then dressed, for to sit, dignity intact, awaiting the
Help on with a jacket with a kind firm pat on the shoulder.
Calm a screaming child with patience and a wound-up toy.
Walk them downstairs to a family waiting with anxious eyes.
Hold the hand when a person no longer wants to live
And ultimately, when death arrives at home, being able to comfort
with a hug, a shared tear, and a closing down of eyelids.
Death by Ipad
Grief by Zoom
Doctor on Call only.

Dear reader: I Opted Out.


  1. The feeling of grief and pain felt here leaps from the prose – capturing the relationship of the patient and doctor and the now painful and real circumstances they both find themselves in.

  2. Such an honest and poignant poem. I’ll never take a doctor’s touch for granted again.

  3. This poem says it all about how the government take such dedicated professionals for granted – the NHS is underfunded, understaffed and taken forever granted. Fabulous poem.

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