Friday 16 December 2011

Zero tolerance? Afraid not.........

"45 year old female, obnoxious asthma sufferer"

It was about 11pm, we had been to a lovely old guy who had had a fall and popped him to the local hospital. We stood patiently in the corridor waiting to hand over to the hospital staff. About 10 ft away was a middle aged woman sitting in a hospital wheel chair. She was obese, not very well dressed, her hair was that of a wild banshee and she had a very large chip on her shoulder. From what I gathered, she had been brought in my ambulance about 20 minutes ago for an apparent asthma attack.

The reason I noticed her was the swearing and shouting.

"Oi, am I booked in? I need a fucking bed, I'm ill"

She repeatedly barked abuse at any staff who walked passed and all that did swerved around her like she was a leper. I'm assuming she was well known to staff and had previous for this behaviour.

"I need a fucking bed, I've got asthma" (pronounced ass-em-eeer)

She was pretty relentless with requests for treatment. A few staff explained that there were many other sicker patients in front of her but she didn't seems to care. To be honest she didn't look or sound like someone suffering an asthma attack so I'm not at all surprised she was sat in a chair.

"Iv'e got asthma, you have to treat me. You're supposed to give me nebuliser (pronounced Nebooo-lizer) within 15 minutes, it said so on the news. I'm iller than all these people, I need a fucking bed"

Everyone appeared more amused than annoyed up until this point but when here abusive requests were ignored she began a torrent of racial abuse at a couple of nurses. Her ignorance was quite horrible to watch. What a sorry state our society is in when people like this are unashamedly able to voice these vile opinions and selfish demands. She wasn't ill, she was simply draining resources. Security arrived to subdue her and she got seen by a doctor in the corridor. What annoys me is nothing will happen, there will be no repercussions, no punishment. She will continue to repeatedly abuse A & E, probably claiming every benefit and disability allowance under the sun. Her racist abuse won't be punished and hospital staff will continue to treat her. And why? Surely when someone abuses staff their right to treatment is relinquished. At what point will the NHS and society as a whole just say No!

No, we won't accept this.
No, we won't treat you.
No, you can't have your benefits.
No, this isn't the end of it.
Yes, you have to leave.
Yes, the police have been called.
Yes, we are pressing charges.
Yes, you are never welcome in this hospital again.

Take this hard line, 0 tolerance approach and maybe just maybe things will slowly begin to change. In reality, she'll be discharged and be back within a few days, dishing out the same abuse as she does every time and as her abuse gets her seen what incentive is there for her to stop. There are similar signs on every ambulance and in every hospital stating:

In order to ensure that all patients attending this department receive the treatment that they need, it is essential that our staff are able to work without fear of attack, abuse or harassment. This Trust views its staff as its most valuable asset and therefore any abuse to those staff is totally unacceptable. Police assistance will always be requested when violent incidents occur and the Trust will support staff that wish to bring private prosecutions against the perpetration of physical abuse. 

In reality this hard line isn't followed. Police, if they turn up, defuse the situation but rarely make arrests. If they do no charges are made once the person has sobered up. Every day staff are subjected to this abuse but no one wants to be the person who refuses treatment, just in case. Again, the fear of backlash and litigation is palpable and while that fear exists nothing will change.

Whilst all this was going on our patient waited quietly and patiently and was thankful to us and all hospital staff for the help he had received. I bed he had to wait longer for his treatment than she did though.


  1. I would have treated her....with a lethal injection;)
    If you don't respect yourself you should always repect medical staff, police, fire n other emergency services no matter what! They look after us, protect us n make us better sometimes in very difficult circumstances. Ffs be nice to them n have the courtesy to make their job a little more pleasant!

  2. I think people like this get pretty well known and then should be red flagged and seperated from the rest of the community and only be treated when found to be actually dying. Another point not relevant i can only publish under anonymous though i would like to publish under my name all other profiles don.t work for me


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