Our NHS is one of the proudest things this country has… it means affordable healthcare whether you are rich or poor. It means you don’t have to worry about having to take out Private healthcare and whether that healthcare package covers you for pre-existing conditions or cancer.
However our Accident and Emergency Departments are over-whelmed with patients.. some patients who should have waited for their GP Surgery to open before running to A & E, patients with toe-ache who just need to understand that an aching toe is not an emergency. Drunks who just don’t know when to put their glass down, and drug addicts who are on a high and are overdosing themselves.. with crack cocaine or heroin.
On the 16th March 2018, I saw the Accident and Emergency department at its finest. I saw the professionalism of doctors and nurses and I saw the caring and understanding of relatives who are facing the most horrendous situations ever.
My story starts at just gone 5am on the morning of the 16th March 2018, when my phone rang. By the time I got downstairs it had rung off… and it came up with a mobile number I didn’t recognise… believe me… I was cursing thinking this is one of those flaming ‘You’ve been in an accident’ phone calls and was just about to go back to bed when my husband’s phone rang.. again the same number.. this time I managed to answer the phone and it was the Residential home, where my 92-year-old mother was living. Her health wasn’t in the best, what with deafness, macular degeneration and vascular dementia.. but believe me I wasn’t expecting to be told she had fallen on the floor as she got out of bed and had severely injured herself and the paramedics were with her and she was on her way to Medway Maritime Hospital. She had severely damaged her hand and the injuries were serious.
Driving to Medway Hospital
As uncanny as this sounds, as I drove through Strood High Street on my way to the hospital, at the stop lights by Station Road was an ambulance… and my instincts told me my mum was in that ambulance. I followed it to Medway Hospital and by the time I parked the ambulance was parked and the paramedics were taking my mum from that ambulance straight to A & E Majors Unit… My instincts proved correct.
The paramedics were caring, compassionate and as they saw me standing outside A & E the young female paramedic asked if I was ‘Bren’ and then told me exactly what had happened. They explained her injuries to me and showed me where they were taking her and stayed with her until the medics could see her.
Within seconds of her being transferred from the stretcher to the hospital bed, the doctors and nurses were there to treat her injuries. She had smashed her face and they suspected a broken nose… she had torn the whole of the skin on the back of her right hand completely off, and took a chunk out of her left wrist. She wasn’t speaking and was making a gurgling sound.
Sadly to say I am squeamish and the nurse said wait outside whilst we check her over and then we’ll call you. I waited and waited and I could hear my mum moaning in pain as they treated her injuries.
As I sat outside, every nurse or doctor that walked by me, asked if I was OK and I explained my mum was being assessed and the nurse would call me in when they had done their assessment.
I sat there and sat there … it must have been a good hour or so… when the nurse appeared and guided me to the relatives room.
You know it is bad when you are guided there… you know, the prospects of a 92-year old vascular dementia patient on Warfarin suffering a fall like that are not good. I was only in this room seconds before the Doctor in Charge explained what was happening.. He told me that they were taking her for a CT scan, and had called ENT down because she was aspirating on the blood from her nose… and that they had to pack her nose, which would not stop bleeding. Things were looking grim… he said they weren’t too worried about the hand injuries at the moment… they just had to stop the bleeding.
Naturally, I broke down, he reassured me that they would do all they could, and once they were in a position to let me into the resuscitation ward they would. He arranged for me to get a coffee and went and found me a box of tissues.
The next thing I could remember, is an elderly man arriving in the relatives room, and the Doctor in Charge apologising to me for having to share the relatives room. This man and I looked at one another and never said a word… but we each understood how each of us felt.
Time arrived for the shift change… and the Doctor who initially assessed her, told me that they had done the CT Scan and it showed there was a large bleed on her brain. They also had to call ENT to clear the blood from her lungs that she had aspirated. The prospects were not looking good, and I knew my mum wouldn’t want to be left like a vegetable. This wonderful doctor then introduced me to the doctor that was taking over the day-shift. They were going to redress her hands.. and contact East Grinstead about her hand and wrist injuries and send the CT Scan results to Kings for assessment. They told me the chances of Kings saying they will treat her were practically zero. And I knew I had to make a decision, based on what my mum would have wanted… so I told them to treat her for pain and to make her comfortable.
Finally I get to see my mum
Finally, they allow me into see my mum … and it was gone 9.30 in the morning before I could see her. She laid there … and during that morning various doctors visit her and it is decided that due to her injuries and the bleed on her brain, palliative care was the in her best interest… Later that evening my mum passed away.
From the moment I arrived at Medway Maritime Hospital and seeing my mum after she passed away, every member of staff and every nurse.. treated me and my family with dignity, respect and showed us compassion and empathy. They kept my mum comfortable and pain-free and they supplied me, with endless cups of coffee and kept me informed of everything that was happening.
Her death has now had to be referred to the Coroner because warfarin was mentioned on her medical certificate, which ultimately led to us not being able to register her death.
This was the third incident my mum had suffered due to an increased INR reading resulting from warfarin thinning her blood too much.. One time she became covered in blood blisters all over her body and they had to sort her out… the second time she banged her hand and had a large hematoma on her hand which they had to do a debridement on. And each time she was admitted they said her INR was too high.
When she first took Warfarin.. it was a blood test every first weekly and then progressed to monthly and even every six weeks at one stage. Then as the years passed and science improved and technology advanced, it became a pin-prick test just like they do when you have Diabetes. The test gives you an instant INR result and they can amend the dosage of warfarin there and then.
I know that the Warfarin did not contribute to her death as informed by the Coroner’s office.. but Warfarin is a dangerous drug… even though they say once it is regulated things should be OK… but having a self-monitoring test unit on hand is the way forward. The bruising that patients on warfarin, suffer is unbelievable.
My mum would only have to touch something and she would bruise. Blood thinners like Warfarin… need to be monitored.
What I would like to see is Warfarin patients, handed a blood monitor kit when they are prescribed warfarin. That way either carers, nursing home staff, or the patient themselves, can do the test themselves on a regular basis. And should their INR number increase meaning the blood is thinner than it should be or be lower meaning the blood is too thick, they can phone for assistance or advise as to whether they need to alter their dosage. Surely leaving a patient weeks without the test being done is not good for any person on warfarin. As diet alone, can affect Warfarin. And we know that the elderly sometimes lose their appetite. Which contributes to the effects or warfarin.
Who knows perhaps if we started to charge ambulance wasters, drunks and drug addicts for their treatment… we would have the resources to fund these things.
Save our NHS
I am all for paying an extra 1p on Income Tax for the NHS, providing the NHS got the funds, and the funds weren’t diversified to other departments, should these departments suffer a short-fall. Our NHS is one of the best things this country has… and we as patients of the NHS need to stop abusing it. We need to respect the fact that some aches and pains can be treated by your GP or pharmacist. We need to stop running to A & E for NON-URGENT medical matters. We as a society need to understand that the NHS does NOT have a money tree growing in every hospital grounds.
We need to understand that when we dial 999 for an ambulance for a non-urgent ache or pain, that we are depriving care for those people who DO need urgent medical care.
A friend of mine hurt herself abroad and do you know what they wanted her credit card before they started any treatment… Perhaps that is what we should do… to people who are hospital tourists. Perhaps it is time to charge drunks and drug addicts for their treatment. I am sorry if that sounds heartless… but I am of the firm opinion that people who self-inflict themselves with alcohol and drugs, should pay for their care.
We make the elderly pay for the residential and nursing care… we leave them with just over £30 a week from their pensions when they are placed in council-care… so why can’t we charge those who abuse our NHS Accident and Emergency departments.
Our NHS is worth saving… yes it needs overhauling… and this Government or any future government needs to speak to the people on the front-line… the nurses, the doctors, the paramedics, the people who administer the care to fully understand what needs to be changed and the best way forward.
Things have to change, because before we know it our NHS which is already at breaking point, especially during winter-time, is going to implode and no longer be able to cope with the needs of administering urgent hospital care. People will die and our NHS will no longer exist.
Each and every one of us, needs to think before we dial 999 or head off to hospital.. is this really serious? Is this really life-threatening? Does my injury or illness constitute as a medical emergency, requiring hospital care? Could I wait until my GP opens before being treated? Could this be treated by my local pharmacist in the morning? Because if you can wait for your GP or local Pharmacist to reopen in the morning, you are allowing your local hospital to deal with the real emergencies. The people who need real emergency treatment.
And if we don’t stop this bed blocking and using our hospitals like GP Surgeries and Pharmacists, perhaps we should really think about fining those people who do use the Accident and Emergency department as their local GP/Pharmacist. After all, if we can fine parents for taking kids on holiday during term time… then we can charge for people who use the A & E Department as a local walk-in health centre.