Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Doctor, Doctor, where for art thou, Doctor?

Wow, I've made it 3 days running. Impressive, no?

Earlier this evening, our builder (who I will call Bob) was walking home from a hard day's work at my house when a car pulled up slightly behind him and one of the occupants hopped out, grabbed his bag and simulatneously spraying him in the face with some sort of gas - possibly CS spray, Pepper spray or some form of diluted acid.

Thankfully Bob managed to close his eyes, stumble to the nearest house for a glass of water before making his way back to our house. I got back just after he had been bundled into the downstairs loo to throw more water onto his face, which was temporarily paralysed and a very angry, swollen red. My mother grabbed her keys, a cold, wet towel and bundled Bob to the car to drive to the nearest A&E.

Upon reaching our local hospital, they rushed to reception where they were greeted by a snotty receptionist who wanted them to fill out forms and look things up on the computer, taking useless information such as his phone number. Quite why she needed Bob's number in order to get him to a doctor is beyond me. In the meantime, two nurses hung out in the background chatting and laughing. My mother, infuriated by the goings-on, immediately took action.

"Would you be asking for his phone number if he had a knife sticking out of his chest?" she asked the receptionist glibly.

The receptionist, clearly missing the sarcasm in my mother's voice, simply replied "no".

"Well then, I suggest you go and get a doctor," she said calmly, "because I am a member of the media and I will not forget this treatment."

Much like muttering "lawyer" to NTL, "media" made the receptionist jump up like she'd been stung and run off to fetch someone. She didn't need to know that my mother's position in the media is not in the news or any form of journalism but rather, film making. It worked and Bob was immediately ushered through to the next hurdle.

A nurse came in to rinse his face and eyes in particular. Now, logic would dictate that a nurse would know how to do something so basic as rinse someone's eyes. Logic is clearly no longer a factor in the NHS as the nurse stated that she didn't know how to perform the procedure. Again, my mother had to inform her that rather than just stand there, perhaps she should go and fetch someone who knew how to.

Are we seeing a pattern here, ladies and gentlemen?

Another nurse was summoned, who duly rinse Bob's eyes, although somewhat stupidly did it with him leaning forward over a sink, rather than lying on his back to allow the liquids to drain away from the eyes.

At that point, they were told they would have to drive to an eye hospital in order to see a specialist and make sure that no permanent damage had been done to Bob's eyes. There, they were taken straight through with no fannying about asking about phone numbers and parents' names. It is now, six hours after the attack that we know the full extent of what could've happened to Bob otherwise. There were small flecks of the spray that landed on his hands and where they hit, he now has angry red burns.

I know this isn't my story but I felt compelled to tell it. Not only is it terrifying that something can happen like that in broad daylight but the incompetence of the first hospital is staggering. I will not name and shame it, although I really should. I had a nightmarish experience there as a child when I badly sprained my wrist and my entire arm swelled up like a balloon and I couldn't move my thumb. I spent eight hours sitting in A&E and was rescued from queue oblivion only by the fact that I was wearing my school uniform (my father and I had not anticipated it would take all day, I thought I would make it into school for mid morning). One of the nurses recognised my uniform as her daughter was in the year above me and very sweetly came over, asked me how long I'd been there and took me through straight away.

I really worry what the Government's closing of more A&E units will mean for the few that remain open in their already oversubscribed state. If my mother was not such a good liar, they would probably still be there now and Bob could've easily been permanently scarred or worse by some idiot thugs.

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