Tag Archives: Hospital

Silver lining to A & E crisis

Long waits are back again




East Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust

East Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust (Photo credit: Wikipedia)




Once again, Patients are being left stranded on trolleys in A & E for hours.

Nurses report patients having treatment in corridors, due in part to the loss of hospital beds.


The Royal College of Nursing says feedback from more than 1,200 staff paints a “worrying picture”, with patients regularly being kept  in ambulances or held in a queue.


The union warned the NHS risked going backwards unless ministers got a grip.

Of the 1,246 nurses and healthcare assistants who replied to an RCN survey, a fifth said providing care in corridors had become a daily occurrence.

Half said they had encountered patients facing long waits on trolleys – with some aware of people being left for 24 hours without a bed.


LaLa says it’s OK

However, the government has said there were enough beds for this not to be happening.  So that’s OK then.   And doesn’t seem to agree with the RCN who say that it was putting patients at risk by potentially leaving them without access to essential equipment such as oxygen supplies and heart monitoring equipment as well as compromising their privacy and dignity.


One patient’s experience


However, there is a silver lining.  And it happened to me.


A couple of months ago a wonderful group of people in John D. Wood Estate agents called an Ambulance for me.  One of my drugs apparently played up (as they do);  I felt desperately ill as I was cycling past, and managed to crawl into their office on Chelsea Green.

The Ambulance crew were there within a few minutes, and took me into the van.  I was strapped onto monitors galore, with wires decorating me everywhere.  Chris and his colleague reassured me, and carried out inumerable tests.  I eventually came out of my semi-coma, and discovered we were parked up on a quiet side street, with me feeling better by the minute.

After what seemed like a long time, Chris announced they were going to take me to A & E for them to monitor and check me over.

By this time I was feeling very much better.  Well enough to realise that if I were taken to my local A & E I would be stuck in a cold corridor for ages, with no-one coming near me, and nothing much being done – staff had better things to do than talk to patients, so you are left not knowing what is going on:  this is stressful in itself.

So Chris and I struck a bargain.

  • He said he would do what I wanted:  take me home.
  • If in return I would give him the name of my GP’s surgery, and promise that I would let my doctor come round and check me up later that afternoon.
  • Chris gave me a sheaf of paperwork to hand to my doctor so that they could see what had been done for me.

The crew took me home;  saw me into, made sure I had water etc. by my bedside, and I snoozed away.  Later on that afternoon the doctor phoned to tell me that the surgery was far too busy, and – didn’t even ask if I needed anything, but it was made clear that they weren’t going to  make a house call.

And this was the only facet of this ‘new’ treatment that wasn’t any good.  I had several questions to ask, and wanted reassurance that I was now on the mend, but my GP was dumping me.

Way forward

But if they get GPs sorted out, treating patients in the ambulance then delivering them home could be the way forward for some of us for certain conditions.

Is there any chance of the RCN, NHS, RCGPs and Patients’ Association looking at this type of service to see if it might work, save the NHS money and save patients having long, cold waits in A & E?  Or am I asking for the moon?

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It's Patients' Week – and hospital food shows signs of improvement


Putting the ‘oooh’

back into food

Do you remember when you were young, and ill in bed – your Mum coming in with a tray with lots of tempting food?

Well, thanks to James Martin and other brave chefs, Danielle Faulkner of British Food Fortnight says,

“there has been a significant uptake of hospitals taking part in British Food Fortnight this year.


Chelsea and Westminster Hospital had a fruit cart outside the door;  sadly, with the cold weather this has disappeared, but whilst it was there friends could buy small packets of delicious peaches, cherries, bananas and other fruit, hygienically wrapped, and easy to carry in to patients.

Perhaps the Governors might be a bit more pro-active and give the vendor permission to operate inside the hospital?  After all, they permit flowers to be sold inside the foyer.

Some of the hospitals who have been in contact with British Food Fortnight include:

  • Roseberry Park Hospital
  • Royal Brompton Hospital
  • Countess of Chester Hospital
  • Southmead Hospital
  • Basildon Hospital

although many more take part too!

British Food Fortnight

Next year dates 27 July – 12 Aug  –   during the Olympics!

If you want to improve your hospital food, keep on at Governors.

Make them realise you are worried about the amount of hospital food that is thrown away.

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Livening up a campaign

Well done The Brompton Hospital                                          




Faced with imminent closure of childrens’ facilities, which will have a knock-on effect for all its other superb services,

the Royal Brompton Hospital has come up with a catchy campaign song.


And this song could show other ‘amateur’ fund-raising groups how to go about making a similar impact.


1.  Get your local TV station on board. This shouldn’t be too difficult – Eidtors always like a medical cause to interest their viewers.

2.  Commission someone to write words and music for a catchy ditty.  This might mean using up some of your funds, but if you send out an appeal – there is usually someone who knows someone who is prepared to help.

3.  Then watch the video:


4.  Notice how it seems

a) as if it is staff that are speaking, proving you don’t need celebrities or actors to put over a powerful message

b)  the backing group is doing all the singing, but the staff are cleverly miming to make it seem they are singing

c)  the video is filmed on-site.  Most hospitals would let a TV crew in, they would be stupid not to.

5.  Don’t take NO for an answer.  The Brompton are going about their campaign in superb fashion, making sure Andrew Lansley can’t forget them.


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Helpful online booklet for survivors

Logo of the United States National Cancer Inst...

Image via Wikipedia

68 pages of helpful advice for survivors

Whilst our National Cancer Survivorshop Initiative indulges in jaw jaw, America’s National Cancer Institute has published another booklet – updated – with helpful advice on surviving after cancer.

Although aimed at American patients, what it mentions is 90% available in Britain – we just need to demand the same care.

Don’t think “oh, Americans pay much more than we do for healthcare” – it’s not always so.  Yes, their healthcare is costly if you insist in having umpteen ‘second-opinions’ from the top cancer hospitals;  if you want every test that can possibly be done;  if you want the top plastic surgeon to be there to smooth out your scars – it is expensive.

But talking to British friends who work in the States, they often say they are pleasantly surprised at the overall cost of their medical insurance.  But of course the NHS wants us to imagine every other country is more expensive, so we don’t ask too many questions about the way they spend our money.

After all, American hospitals expect their departments to be open 24/7.  With expensive equipment installed, this has to start earning its keep the moment it is installed;  the way the NHS closes down from Friday mid-day onwards, leaving threatres and units with expensive machinery lying idle, would give an American hospital a heart attack in the finance department.

So read http://nci.nih.gov/cancertopics/coping/life-after-treatment.pdf

Print out any pages that mention a service YOU would like – then take this to your GP and ask how you can get this.

It’s only by us demanding services that GPs will start asking around, and perhaps be pleasantly surprised that we DO have some excellent services – albeit they lie hidden and unknown.

And in these days of cut-backs, our local GP’s surgery is expecting a new posting, a Patient Navigator, to start working in March.  This seems to be a new idea from Dept. Health, so try asking if your GP has one – I gather they are there to help patients find services they need – so let’s give them something to do!

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Minister of Health talks to patients' representatives, before health professionals

Andrew Lansley
Image by conservativeparty via Flickr

Secretary State for Health’s first speech is to patients’ representatives

To emphasise his promise of putting patients first, Andrew Lansley chose to make his first official speech to an audience composed of representatives of The Patients’ Association and National Voices.

And he spoke at The Bromley-by-Bow Centre, not an NHS hospital.

The Patients’ Association welcomed the promise of the Secretary of State to focus every element of the National Health Service on the patient.  As Director Katherine Murphy commented, “By hosting the meeting, the Patients Association is bringing to the table the views of the thousands of patients who ….  feel they are viewed as no more than a token add-on”.

Lansley first speech set him head-to-head with one of Lord Darzi’s (previous Government Minister) favourite projects  – to get patients discharged from hospital more quickly.

Ever since the previous Government tried to cut costs by speeding up patients’ discharge from hospital, critics have warned that this was building up problems.  Now, if patients are discharged too early and have to return for treatment of the original condition within one month, the hospital will be ‘fined’:  Lansley threatening they won’t get paid.

In theory this a good idea, but someone is going to have to pay for the medical attention, bed space, food and drugs that patients will use – details are hazy on who will pay – and how.  In reality the NHS will pick up the bill however it is charged – but it is good to know that you won’t be kicked out because your bed is needed.

Lansley promised

  • To put patient safety first
  • Unleash ‘meaningful information to patients’
  • Focuss on quality, innovation, productivity and safety required to improve patient outcomes
  • Hospitals are resposible for patients’ care for 30 days after they are discharged
  • Set NHS professionals free from targets and the bureaucratic system “that compromises patient care”
  • To assure patients “No decision is made about me, without me”

and said, “my ambition is for health outcomes and health services to be as good as any in the world”.

He then went on to show that he had obviously taken on board lessons learnt whilst he was Shadow Health Minister for six years,” the previous government’s bureaucratic approach of perpetual interference… has failed patients, and left us lagging behind our European counterparts on outcomes that matter to patients, such as how long they will survive after a cancer diagnosis”.

It remains to be seen if he is able to change the bureaucratic system that is in place today.  I have just phoned the local PCT to see if they can tell me if approval has been granted for Lymphoedema treatment, only to be told as the patient I am not entitled to be told – I have to wait until the doctor returns from holiday.

Secretary of State, get your skates on!  You have a mountain of bureaucracy to challenge and alter, but good luck to you if you manage to change even one tenth of this.

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How to understand what nurses say

Do you Triage your laundry?

Some nurses speak ‘medic-speak’.  You may not understand them.  But, as in all jobs, those that work in a sector have their own way of describing things.

But their ‘in-speak’ can have its own words – hence one nurse who told a colleague “I am Triaging the laundry” .

Translation:  she just meant she was sorting clothes to put in the washing machine:  this pile was urgent – this pile could wait.

There is a video clip by an inspirational nurse, Donna Cardillo, which gives a short insight into what nurses mean when they talk to each other.  Listen, you might learn some interesting phrases to mull over whilst you have those moments when you are actually left alone in your hospital bed, and can reflect on life, the universe and everything.  www.dcardillo.com

She says nurses don’t have colds, they have an U.R.I. – or Upper Respitatory Infection.  (See, I told you!).

Or she says nurses don’t cough, they ‘Aspirate’.

Understand these phrases, and you begin to understand what they are saying in ‘nurse speak’.

And if you are a nurse, Donna has written several books especially for nurses:

“Dear Donna” columnist for Nursing Spectrum & NurseWeek
Your First Year as a Nurse from Random House
Career Alternatives for Nurses®
The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses
A Daybook for Beginning Nurses

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