Monthly Archives: September 2013

Sometimes we forget just what Emergency services and the NHS can do

Me most of all

image of helicopter and crew

Medical staff frequently go beyond what one can expect to help us, and recently it was dramatically brought home to me why so many of us hold the Emergency Services in high regard.

A young relative (just crawling) had fallen into a pond. An Air Ambulance had been called to fly him to the local General hospital,  He fell into a pond, and by the time he was found, had stopped breathing. But to the rescue came the local Air Ambulance service (funded by a charity), and the local General Hospital – where the family saw just how brilliant NHS treatment can be working at the cutting edge.

In the words of Lee, one of the superb Air Ambulance paramedics,this is what happened on board the helicopter that went to help.

Dramatic flight

Helimed 24 , the Air Ambulance for Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire was manned with Pilot Gez Charlton and Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) Paramedics Gerry Lea, Adam Broom and Lee Mayne at its base at RAF Benson. In the ambulance control room in Bicester manning the Special Incident Desk (SID) was HEMS paramedic Clive Stevens.At 1709 Clive rang sending us to a drowning in a pond involving a baby boy. . By 1711 the team were airborne,. These emergency teams don’t waste a second, and whilst Gerry in the front passenger seat was concentrating on the navigating Adam was looking up drug dosages and Lee was detaching the suction unit from the aircraft for its probable use.Five minutes later they were overhead the village. We were all looking out for ponds and/or people. We could see neither. We contacted Clive to get a better location or to get someone outside make themselves known to us. Meanwhile we did about 3 circuits of the village all desperately looking for signs of our patient. Then one of us spotted two women running into a field with one carrying a child.The next thing we saw was CPR being carried out on the child;  we then knew what we had to deal with. Sometimes you go to things that are given as very serious but on arrival are not.  Gez made a direct approach into the field as close as was safe to the patient. As we were about to touch down, looking across to our right we saw the child being picked up by his arm, looking like a rag doll! A desperate sight that is ingrained in our minds now.By 1719 we were out of the doors.  Gerry got the baby from Mum and started mouth to mouth CPR. The stretcher was cleared of all our equipment bags and he was laid on it. Adam got an I gel airway out for Gerry to insert. Adam then placed an EZIO needle into the patients leg. Lee connected the monitoring and defib pads and took a temperature. The front paramedic seat was turned rearwards so that all three of us could have hands on the patient en route . All our bigger bags were crammed in the front foot well with some smaller bits of kit that could be needed in flight on the rear floor. Once completed we got the Mum and grandmother to move away from the helicopter. A land crew was also coming to the scene and would look after and transport the family to hospital.  We were now ready to leave. All this had been done with the noise and turbulence of the rotors running. We took off at 1726 heading for the John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford.Gez did not need to be told to fly as fast as possible. Likewise, the SI did not need to be told what our intentions were. Clive had already alerted the hospital and arranged a crew to meet us at the helipad. During the flight one dose of Adrenaline was given and CPR continued. Seven minutes later we landed at the pad at Oxford.  We carried the baby the short distance to the ambulance before being driven to A&E. From there it was a trolley push into Resus 3 where we were met by a full team of medical staff. He was placed on the hospital bed and a handover given.  Sometime later whilst doing our paperwork we saw the desperate sight of mum and dad arriving.Before leaving to go back to the helicopter we received a glimmer of hope when we were told that the hospital had got a pulse back.

Whilst a team of 26 worked round the clock to bring him back to life, the hospital made up a make-shift bed of bubble wrap, so that cold water could be run under the baby to keep him cool.

The massive team worked on the baby 24 hours a day, until four days later he started pulling out all the tubes and drips – so they decided he could go home.  He had to return for tests on his brain, but everything is fine.

During this time, the Helicopter crew said they received regular updates about the baby and his steady gradual improvement.  Some via the phone but a couple of times Gez, after taking other patients into hospital would pop into ITU to see how Lucas was doing. Eventually we got the amazing news that he had been sent home with no ill effects from the incident. This was backed up when six weeks later on the 26th April, our patient, all his family, extended family and a lot of cakes came and visited the crew and helicopter at Benson. A truly amazing and emotional time for all with a huge number of photos taken by everyone.

Lessons to be learnt
Later that night, past midnight, the rest of the family arrived home, to find the drive full of police cars. After Baby P and other incidents, it was reassuring to know the Police wanted to confirm what had happened – the Grandparents said they could have done without the long questoning at that time, but they realised its need.
And Lee, of the Air Ambulance crew is very modest, but did say, “the success of his survival is in my opinion all down to his mother being able to empty Lucas of the water he had ingested and the excellent CPR that she carried out.  Without that all the things that happened afterwards would have been to no avail.
Luckily Mum said she had always been interested in learning as much as possible about First Aid for Children, and knew how to carry out CPR. So lessons to be followed there for any Parent who hasn’t had time to take a course.
And ever since a friend had been saved by the same Air Ambulance, the family had taken out a Direct Debit in its favour;  never thinking that one day they would need it so badly.
The whole family is raising money hoping to enable the Air Ambulance to work up to 24 hours a day.  By an extraordinary chance the clocks had changed two days before;  and the Air Ambulance was still on duty.  A week before it would have been stood down for the night.
Rest of family
As with many families, there are dogs – who are the only ones not very happy since every tiny bit of pond now has an electric fence around it, and the dogs had a lesson to learn before they worked out what the fences were.
The baby is fine, and the other day I caught him trying to climb out of the dog flap – it’s now firmly nailed up, but this might have been how he managed to escape the time before.  And Mother and Father are recovering slowly, as are the rest of the family.
One incident made a bit impression:  the family ran a sports day to raise money for Helimed 24, and all the crew were delighted to see the baby, now running around.  One of the paramedics piciked him up to look at his leg;  he hadn’t been able to get a line for drips into a vein as these had all packed up – so had punched a hole into the bone and got a line set up that way – and he was worried in case there would have been a scar after this incredible life-saving procedure!

How DARE doctors blame us for addiction


Doctors call us a nation of pill poppers

But they are the ones who prescribe the pills in the first place

When I fell and landed with a very painful fracture, I was prescribed a heavy dose of Tramadol.  The fracture was a possible result of Osteoporosis – this was probably result of being  prescribed a cancer drug which induced Osteoporosis.

After the initial incredible pain relief, i began to realise that I was becoming dis-orientated;  the pills were having nasty effects, and I realised I needed professional advice to work out a balance between pain relief and possible addiction.  So I called my GP.  When he finally called me back, I asked to be referred urgently to the Pain Clinic at the local hospital.

They couldn’t give me an appointment for three months.

So called the surgery back.  When the doctor finally called me, I asked for an urgent referral.  He couldn’t do that, but would prescribe me more Tramadol, and suggested I take this for next three months until I could ask the Pain clinician what to do.

Next day friends had to call 999;  I had fallen again, as was so dis-orientted as an effect of the Trmadol.   A & E prescribed Diclofenac, and sent me home covered in faeces and vomit.  No attempt was made to clean me up, and luckily I wasn’t strong enough to open the blister packs for Diclofenac.

So next morning, I was really frightened;  having had major, major heart surgery (as a side effect of one of cancer drugs), I knew enough to know I should never had had this prescribed for me.  Went to ask advice of a private doctor, who took one look at me, and said “Have you seen a pain specialist about this?”  Explained about three month wait, so he lifted up his mobile and spoke to a friend to tell him he HAD to see me that day.  Then sent me to see Dr. T., who only happened to be in charge of Pain Clinic at local hospital.  I would have seen him on NHS if I had waited three months.

That afternoon I was shown into Dr. T’s comfortiing presence, and in a long appointment he worked out a sensible regime for me.  Three days later I was off the heavy pain killers, and was down to Tramadol 50 wheh I needed it – which soon faded into never.  Dr. T kept in touch with me by phone over the weekend, and said I was to call him if I felt any more pain, or wooziness.  Touch wood, pain has disappeared.  And three boxes of expensive Diclofenac went into the waste paper basket – what a waste of NHS resources.  It was worth every penny I paid, but why do NHS blame us for addiction?  If I had followed my NHS GP and continued with Tramadol 200 for three months, I dread to think what an addict I would have become.

So DON’T blame us as addicts – or for expensive prescription errors.

P.S.  At follow-up meeting, doctor told me next time to take anti-emetic, before I take pain killer tablet.  This would probably prevent side effects from pain killers.  So take prescription to NHS GP;  he not only gives me this – no question – but also sends a box of Naproxen – which I had NEVER requested, and have read that this can be dangerous for someone with my heart problems!  You’ve got to be strong to survive some treatments!

Macmillan survey highlights shocking truth with cancer survey


Macmillan Survey Reveals Shocking Truth

Wouldn’t you think London, being the Capital of the UK, would have the best cancer hospitals?

Don’t hold your breath ……..

If you have been treated at the hospitals listed below, and were unhappy with your care, you are not alone.

A recent survey by Macmillan cancer charity lists

The 10 ‘worst performing’ trusts

  • 1) Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust
  • 2) Barts Health NHS Trust
  • 3) Croydon Health Services NHS Trust
  • 4) Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospital NHS Trust
  • 5) King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  • 6) North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust
  • 7) St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust
  • 8) Whittington Health
  • 9) North West London Hospitals NHS Trust
  • 10) Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust (West Midlands
  • The survey says “)Hospitals often did well in treating cancer but fell short in care afterwards, NHS England said.”

Is Arrogance the cause?

Patient survey after survey highlights the mantra ‘`no-one listens to me’.  When I was treated at a major London hospital, a nurse told me “you are ONY a patient’, when I dared to query treatment.  Sp I went off to France (where on average cancer patients live 4.6 year longer than UK patients) and was listened to.  But how many of us are lucky enough to have a job that allows us this freedom?  Usually we have to put up with the bad care that is dished out.

But now, Macmillan has confirmed our fears;  so we can wave the evidence under the noses of arrogant doctors and – not so often – nurses.  And INSIST that we are listened to.

Behind the Survey

To get this result, Macmillan analysed a nationwide survey of 68,000 people and found care standards fell “lamentably short” in some capital hospitals.

Patients were asked about issues such as whether they felt well supported, informed and were treated with respect.

NHS England said the findings were “disappointing” but were being tackled.

Caroline Alexander, the chief nurse for London, said: “We do well in treating the illness.

“But often we fall short in caring for the individual and giving patients and their families the support that they need.”

And remember, doctors say that those of us who complain, have better survival rates.

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