‘So I woke up and there was the nurse taking care of me’
‘Couldn’t she take care of herself?’
‘You bet she could, but I didn’t find that out ’til later.’
- The Marx Brothers, Cocoanuts
Idiot/Savant takes a sceptical look at the new National government’s policy to address A & E overcrowding:
The policy is based on UK Labour’s attempts to improve quality in the NHS by introducing these sorts of absurd targets, and Ryall claims that policy was a success, having led to a reduction in the number of patients waiting for than four hours from 23% to 3%. But that success was an illusion. As noted in Adam Curtis’ documentary, The Trap, faced with pressure to improve their statistics, NHS managers created a new and unofficial post, the “Hello Nurse”, whose sole purpose was to greet new arrivals to A&E so they could claim for statistical purposes that the patient had been “seen”.
It’s worth pointing out that having a nurse that says ‘Hello’ to you would actually be a huge improvement to the Wellington Hospital A & E service where they have an unheated, unstaffed brightly lit reception area in which a member of the hospital administration makes an occasional appearance to admit new patients. If they had someone there who was a nurse they could do also some preliminary triage while they said ‘Hello’.
For reasons I’ve never understood, Wellington has the worst hospital in the country by a fairly staggering margin, so patients in other districts might not be so thrilled by the prospect of someone saying ‘Hello’ to you when you stagger into the emergency ward but it would be a massive improvement for us in the capital. Bring it on!
MacDoctor has additional comments on the policy. My only response is that Capital Cost Health doesn’t appear to have a shortage of beds, it just has a shortage of doctors and nurses to look after the people in those beds.
Because most wards have to maintain a set patient to caregiver ratio the hospital dumps almost all new patients in the A & E ward because there’s no limits on the number of patients in an emergency ward.
When I went to hospital earlier this year (just back from India, 41 degree fever) I was seen after about twelve hours and told that I needed to be quarantined in the infectious diseases ward, but that there wasn’t any room there so I’d have to lie on a gurney in the hall of A & E for a few days before they could free a spot up. I decided that instead of being a vector for a pandemic I’d rather die in the comfort of my home so I discharged myself against the doctors advice and sat in my lounge watching Lost, swallowing fistfuls of codeine tablets and dripping with sweat for a week or so, before I recovered.
I’m not sure I got very good value on my tax dollar there.