This morning being the Sabbath I started my day with a hearty breakfast and numerous cups of the finest breakfast tea and listened to the BBC news. It seems the NHS have finally admitted they are at tipping point in terms of money, in other words they are close to running out ‘quelle surprise .. So it’s about to topple over !
Having been blessed in some ways for the past thirty years with a private health plan that has enabled me to have treatment for everything from growth removal to spinal and heart operations at some the best hospitals in the country I recently found myself at the mercy of the NHS.
Following a serious accident back in May I suffered from two cracked ribs, broken clavicle, bruised lung, fractured wrist and a shattered femur. I was considered to be in such a state that my femur was classed as life threatening and so was collected from a supermarket car park, after suffering the indignity of having all but my underwear cut from me, by an ambulance crew and taken to the nearest NHS hospital.
No more private surgeons for me, no more private rooms, no more ‘handled with kid gloves’ consultant conversations, this was to be the harsh reality of a cash struck NHS and I was soon to find out that I was just another piece of meat being trucked through the process plant. Ooooooer Matron!
After waking from my operation to replace my femur with a 12 inch metal rod and four bolts and in excruciating pain I found myself in the recovery ward of the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford, Kent. Unfortunately it has one of the worst reputations in the county and has suffered incredibly bad press in the last few years. I, unfortunately, was about to find out why.
I was moved from recovery to a small ward and found myself with two alcoholics and one drug addict along with an old gentleman suffering with dementia who was literally shitting himself on the floor by my bed. I suffered this for 22 agonising hours. It wasn’t until I threatened to pull the tubes out of my arm if I wasn’t moved to a ‘proper’ ward that a ‘ward manager’ finally came to see me to see what all the fuss was about. After I asked her if she would like to be in a ward unable to move, with a fresh theatre wound, surrounded by drunks and shit would she want to happily remain here surprisingly I was moved. It’s not that I don’t think drunks and druggies and stuff don’t need help, I just don’t think they should be taking up bed space in our hospitals. Whilst I have experience of people in my own family and group of friends that are dependent on alcohol and drugs and whilst I am very experienced with dementia in my own family I do not see why they are being housed in trauma wards in our hospitals, it is inappropriate and of course costly.
So once settled in my new ward I started to relax and prepare myself for a long stay. On day three I was introduced to my physiotherapist and we started to look at how I might eventually stand and start on the road to mobility. I felt reassured and started to think more positive thoughts, that was until 11.30pm that evening when I was loaded up with my belongings and shunted from the ward by two hospital porters. I protested and asked why was I being moved, the answer was simple, they need the beds. I still don’t understand what that is supposed to mean.
I was deposited in what was my fourth ward in almost as many days. This time my new neighbours included two dementia patients, two drug addicts and one 45 year old man with the mental age of a 5 year old ( if I got that wrong and I have upset you, tough, I don’t have any idea what the current PC term is in order to label certain types of fellow beings so deal with it) The chap with childlike behaviour started throwing toys at me because apparently I was intruding in his space. I ask again is this really an appropriate environment for any of us??
Then the young nurse came to check on me and kept calling me ‘Dearie and Sweetie’ if you know me well you will know that I don’t answer to that. I simply told her that my name was not Sweetie or Dearie, that my name was Lloyd or indeed Mr James. Well that got her goat, she responded by writing in huge capitals above my head ‘Prefers to be called Mr James’ ……. Bitch !!
Look, this wasn’t all supposed to be about me, this was about the tipping point and the cash crisis so here’s my point. If hospital beds were not being used by addicts as weekend retreats, and believe me they are being used, I mean these so called health patients spend most of their time in the car park smoking and not healing, it’s common knowledge. If some families didn’t think that it was OK to simply drop off an elderly dementia sufferer for what is simply respite care again mostly at the weekends. If our wards were run as they used to be by Matrons and not ward managers. If we closed down much of the administrative offices where people called ‘Bed Managers’ for example, yes it’s bloody true, they simply move beds on computer screens, I know because I was a victim of one of these mindless morons. If equipment such as zimmer frames, crutches, bathing seats etc were not supplied to the NHS under contract via four or five channels. I know about this one as well, I have much of this equipment at my home right now. Two items have broken and I have needed replacements, you call the number, they are the contractor, they call the distributor, who in turn call the supplier who in turn call the manufacturer. You think I’m kidding right, well you have a zimmer frame collapse on you and try to make the call for a replacement. And get this, by the time it gets to the NHS, much of this equipment is hired on an hourly basis. And, when it is returned, you thought it would be re-used, wrong!! it goes in a skip due to health and bloody safety.
Not only that but the hospital transport service is under contract to G4S, I know because I have had to use it. The contract in Kent alone is a staggering £90m. It is being abused and used like a taxi service and it is simply a disgrace.
This list could go on and on. Until you experience the NHS at first hand and by the way my partner is an NHS nurse and is disgusted with the waste so has recently decided to leave to work in the private arena. The NHS is being drained down and will eventually be lost to us, it is being abused from every angle and yet it would not take a rocket scientist to put this once greatly admired institution back on the right path. I, like many others believe this is a plan to take us down the road to a system like that travesty of a health service in the USA where profit and greed take over from health and care. I say bring back the old ways because unlike my bones of late ‘if it aint broke don’t fix it’