Is it that serious, eh James? Well, you are the expert, Old Boy. I’m not casting aspersions on your professional ability – but really!

I know that you know your stuff. That is why I pay your whacking great fees without a murmur. But you’re serious this time. The situation is bad. Ah well! I suppose it had to come. You have warned me often enough.

I know one is supposed to take this sort of thing seriously – but seriously James. I mean to say! Who would think a tiny thing like that would lead to this.

A Fatal mistake? I still can’t grasp that. I still can’t accept that nothing can be done. It is some sort of joke for God’s sake! I mean, James old fellow, dear old James, I’ve known you for years. Surely you can do something. Tell me it is all a mistake; that I’ll wake up tomorrow morning and everything will be all right again. You will see me through this one James I’m sure. What else is a good lawyer for!

It all started so innocently. Poor old Arthur Philps. He and his wife were patients of mine for years. He was fit enough, apart from lower back trouble now and then, but she was a very sick woman. Diabetes, heart trouble, if it wasn’t one thing it was another. She really ought to have been in care but he wouldn’t hear of it.

“It will be okay Doc. I’ll see her through!” And he did, as well as he could.

There came a time when she should have been in hospital, but there wasn’t a bed.

“I’ll stay at home with her, Doc.,” said Arthur, “I’ve got some sick days owing.”

I weakened and signed the certificate. ‘Mr. Philps will be absent from work for one week due to a medical condition.” Well, it was quite true. Maybe it wasn’t HIS medical condition but I hadn’t said it was. I know, James, I implied it, but it would have been him who was sick if he had to worry about losing his wages on top of his other troubles. You know it yourself, James, a lot of employers positively insist that their employees use up their allotted Sick Days. It keeps the books straight and is tax deductible – or was.

All doctors do it. Well, maybe I was tempting Providence a little when I put down PMT. as the medical condition accounting for the wharfie’s day off at Flemington. But you should have seen the size of the wharfie. After all, I was only trying to tip off his boss that his condition was, to put the best light on it, psychosomatic! I suppose it got to be a bit of a habit. However unlikely the complaint I listed no-one ever challenged it.

It was a bit of a game really. I found that no-one ever really

takes any notice whatever one puts down. I know it was a bit naughty of me when I started feeding the nonsense into Medicare, but after all, James, the whole purpose of bulk billing is to provide an adequate service to the Poor and Needy. Let’s face it, James, there aren’t many poorer and needier than the people in my practice, and that includes me! A man’s got to live – and I wasn’t very greedy.

Of course, if I had just padded the consultations a bit here and there, all would have been well – the old dears will sign anything I tell them, but old habits die hard, James. I just couldn’t resist the old game of incongruous information. Daring them to spot the deliberate mistake. Werner, my psychiatrist, says that I wanted to get caught. Nonsense! It was the fun of the thing.

Get caught I did though, as well you know, James. It was those bloody computers! – and a bit of carelessness on my part. I put in a bill for a prostatectomy on a crane driver, a genuine claim mind you. What is wrong with that? Well it seems that I had him listed for a hysterectomy in the same damn financial year!