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Repeat Prescription

Emma Storr, GP

I want to prescribe panaceas

for teetering marriages,

for kids that disappoint.

I want to find spells

in my pharmacopoeia

to soothe the bruises

of pain and loss.

I want to give holidays

to those slaves

whose parents last forever,

forgetting themselves,

forgetting their children.

Every ten minutes

a patient leaves

gripping a script

for plasters,

pills, placebos –

I didn’t want to sign.


I am delighted that two of my poems Six-week Check and Repeat Prescription were chosen to appear in the NHS poetry anthology These are the Hands. Both poems are in my pamphlet Heart Murmur that was published in 2019 by Calder Valley Poetry, based partly on my work as a GP. Repeat Prescription reflects the fact that as GPs we often have little to offer besides a sympathetic ear. We can’t offer cures for emotional stress and traumatic life events although a lot of pressure is sometimes put on doctors to prescribe something, anything, for the everyday misery many people experience.

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