I was a guest of the UK’s largest employer yesterday at the Fylde Coast NHS Treatment Centre on St. Walburgas Road (operated by Spire Healthcare). I did my foot in years ago and periodically it gives me quite a lot of pain, so it was decided by a consultant that I have a steroid injection in it (albeit after 5 years of going back to the GP to get a referral). My appointment was at 1.15pm which is where my nice timeline starts.
I arrived promptly and within a few minutes I was taken to my room at the hospital by an authoritative woman who I presume was some sort of manager. I was confused by this. I was under the impression that I would be in and out, with perhaps a short wait whilst they did general admissions procedures such as blood pressure. After all, how long can an injection possibly take?
It was a nice enough room, with a 32 inch plasma screen for company (thats where your tax dollars are going) but it did feel a bit like being in solitary confinement.
After 15 minutes of staring out of the window watching cars on Newton Drive a staff nurse called Pam came in, wheeling in a load of equipment which looked like a blood pressure monitor and some other stuff I didn’t recognise. On top of it all was a ton of paperwork. I was again a bit confused. Was all this crap necessary?
Pam issued me with one of those wrist bands with my name and date of birth on it then proceeded to do my blood pressure, blood oxygen level and temperature. My blood pressure was 126mmHg over 86mmHg which seemed fairly normal to me given that I hate hospitals and the (normally) officious staff and intimidating paraphernalia that accompanies them. But Pam – who didn’t seem to know what a smile was – said it was slightly high.
Given that (like many nurses it seems) she must have been well over 14 stone herself I thought it was quite hypocritical of her to make that comment since hers cant exactly have been low. Still, after repeatedly asking whether I had any allergies she proceeded to leave and said I wouldn’t be getting my jab until 3.30-3.45pm. She then said she wasn’t going to be the nurse looking after me anyway. Great.
After pacing about for another 10 minutes the consultant came in, Mr Tony McEvoy. I’d obviously seen him a couple of times prior to yesterday but was a little offset when he asked which foot it was that he would be injecting. I know these guys turn over quite a few people but I’d have liked him to have actually read my fucking notes beforehand because it was him that decided it needed doing. He whipped out a marker pen and drew a giant arrow on my foot then left.
At this point I had been at the hospital about 45 minutes with a further hour and a half before I would get my injection. So after playing about on my netbook (which I had plugged into my mobile phone and was using the internet – naughty!) for ten minutes and thinking about having a wank, I fell asleep.
A middle aged red headed nurse caked in fake tan came in and woke me up. She said her name was Carol and then asked whether I was having a snooze. I don’t know if she was joking, blind or completely stupid.
She then asked whether I’d like some water: I said I was fine but she insisted and brought it anyway which raised my suspicions. I looked over at the tray. There was a bizarrely small glass and next to it was a plastic jug of what I presumed was ice water. On the tray were two straws. This immediately made me think of Right to Die.
Carol informed me that my injection would now not be until 4.30pm, meaning I would have been waiting 3 hours in the hospital. I sighed and fell asleep as she left.
Being left in this room was like being on death row but without being fed McDonalds.
Another nurse came in wearing surgical scrubs. She was fairly old, barrel shaped and about 4 foot tall - a complete contrast to me. She was very pleasant though. She again asked me for the 65th time whether I had any allergies before helping me get into my gown. Over this I wore my own dressing gown which raised the question of what the point of the other gown was, but still, after checking the paperwork we walked through to the theatre.
There was a large room with a lot of junk lying around and people milling about and in the middle there was another block: the theatre was a room within a room, if you like. Mr McEvoy appeared and strutted around waiting for the nurse to fill in yet more paperwork and after making a joke about the sign on the theatre door that said “theatre clean” being a good start, we went in and after a further couple of minutes I was being wheeled out again and back to my room by Mrs 4 Foot Tall.
On the way back I encountered Carol who was supposed to be looking after me. She exclaimed that she wondered where I had gone – although you’d think that the fact I was being wheeled around by a nurse would have told her all she needed to know. She then said she’d get me some food. Random.
After being in my room for a few minutes another lady appeared with a tray upon which there was a rack of brown toast complete with a selection of jams, honey and a cup of tea. Carol then turned up as I was decimating the toast and handed me some paperwork, said I could go when I was ready and that was that.
Jumped in the car and off home I went.
You might have found this little diary utterly boring, but it does illustrate a few issues relating to the NHS.
Firstly, and clearly, I was not happy that I had to wait 3 hours to have a procedure that took a matter of seconds. Why is it that we have to accept this time and time again? I saw an orthopaedic consultant named Mr Stephen Mannion at Blackpool Victoria and had to wait 3 hours there as well. I don’t mind waiting an hour or so because I understand things can come up or departments might be understaffed due to holidays, but whats the point in making appointments if they are going to be so wildly apart from the actual time you get what you went for?
Secondly, why was it necessary for me to have been given the attention of three nurses, a consultant and two other support/management staff? To me this is a monumental waste of tax money and nursing resources.
Why was it necessary for me to occupy a room at this hospital all afternoon given that I was only in there for a single injection that took a matter of seconds to perform? Why could my GP not have done it?
Why can’t there be a walk in-walk out clinic where able bodied people like myself can walk in, have their arranged treatment and walk out again?
Why is it that the nurses didn’t seem to have a clue what was going on with me? How is it that a patient can be taken from their room and undergo a procedure without the nurse under whose care they are supposed to be even knowing about it?
Why did they have to ask me the same yes or no questions a million times?
What was the point in me having to wear a gown if they were going to allow me to wear my own dressing gown – which has not been washed for ages – over the top?
How was I allowed to go into an operating theatre area without washing my hands a single time? There are dispensers of hand sanitiser in every room of the hospital yet not once was I asked to use one. I could have been carrying swine flu and MRSA on my hands for all they knew. Maybe someone in there now is suffering because I didn’t wash my hands.
Just goes to show though, even privately operated hospitals are a pretty loose ship. Someone said to me before I went, “don’t have anything major done at Fylde Coast”. I think I know what they mean now.