Saturday 14 July 2012

24 - Part 2


The following takes place between 10pm and 2am


"76 year old male, fall, lying on floor, confused"

The yawning had begun. Not a good sign so early on! After a couple of cancellations we were dispatched to this job, another night, another fall. The sheer amount of jobs likes this highlights the ever increasing difficulty with caring for the elderly and what a social problem providing the necessary care is becoming. We pulled up outside and our patient's wife was waiting at the door. The usual unnecessary apologies for wasting our time were offered, as were the usual assurances that there was nothing to be sorry for. The smell of urine was so so strong. The house was filthy; our patient was filthy. The smell of a UTI is extremely distinctive, the smell of a UTI with the heating on is enough to make you gag. The smell of a UTI with the heating on and infected leg ulcers is where we were at! It's the kind of smell that gets in your throat and makes your eyes water. It is so difficult to ignore it but I don't like to show  how physically sick I feel. 

Our patient had slipped off his chair onto the floor. His ulcers were dressed in thick dressings and he was unable to sit up, let alone stand. There were no injuries so we helped him up to standing, then back into his chair. Unsurprisingly, he refused hospital but due do his confusion, inability to cope and numerous infections we entered into the grey area of capacity. After a frank conversation with him and his wife I deemed him not to have capacity to refuse but was taking him to hospital against his will the best option? Probably not. The pathways available to us look at what is the least restrictive option and it is a battle between what you want to happen, what the patient wants to happen and what is best for the patient. In this instance a referral to the GP and a home visit was the best we could do. He had a hospital appointment the following day for which transport was arranged so I was happy to pass him into the care of the GP. Yes, it's partly an arse covering exercise but when patients don't heed our advice we have to. 

It is very sad to see our elderly generation living in these conditions. They owned their own home, so as such were not entitled to free care. Despite both paying taxes for 50 years they were left to pay for their own care. Because of this they didn't have any. No carers, no cleaners, nothing. I'd love David Cameron to have been with us on this shift. See how he would deal with a dead baby, a mental health patient with no treatment and a pensioner living in squalor. Would he still think the NHS cuts are a good thing? We are left sat in the truck at 11pm filling out a vulnerable adult form for social services eternally frustrated at seeing our ageing population chucked on the scrap head.


"40 year old female, chest pain"

The second I pressed the button we got another job. The call was 45 minutes old which for a chest pain means the service is being run ragged already. When we entered the house of the last job it was still light. Now it was pitch black outside; the glare of headlights, break lights and street lights was going to be the view for the next 6 hours or so. The job was 9 miles away which at this time of night is about a 15 minute drive. Driving on blue lights has its dangers; you are often going faster than the speed limit, on the wrong side of the road, through red lights  and doing lots of overtaking. You also have to factor in the erratic behaviour of other motorists. A long drive can be quite stressful and there is nothing more frustrating to arrive on scene after a long drive through traffic to find it's been a complete waste of time. Eventually we pulled up outside the address. The smell of burning brakes was lush (that's the petrol head talking)! I grabbed the bags and headed up to the front door. Knock knock. Nothing. Knock knock. Nothing. Knock knock. A light comes on. A guy opens the door:

"You're late"

"Sorry, it's very busy tonight, we only just got the job"

"It's not good enough, she has gone to hospital in a taxi"

"OK, did you tell the ambulance service you no longer needed an ambulance?"

"Nope, it's not my job"

"Well we have just driven a long way to get here, we could have been going to someone else who needs us"

"That's not my fucking problem, you should have come when we called"

With that he slammed the door in my face. Joy! Another happy customer. I detest the ignorance and attitudes of people like that. They think their little problems are more important than anyone else's'Gone before arrival' on the paperwork and off to the next one.


"38 year old male, unknown problem" 

With no other information to go on we headed back to the area we had just come from 9 miles away. It's controls game of ambulance dot to dot. I'd love to see what our shifts journey looks like on a map. It's probably the outline of a middle finger! Half way to the address we got an update:
'38 year old male, uncertain of what is going on and feels very angry and violent, history of schizophrenia, calm now but could kick off at any time, NHSD believes patient needs to be in a safe environment, wait for police before entering premises'
Interesting! We were no clearer about what exactly is wrong and what exactly we are supposed to do. It is the middle of the night, as far as mental health services are concerned it's A & E or nothing. This should be fun. We parked up at the top of the road and waited for police. After 20 minutes we got a message from the police. 
'No units to send'
So we waited, and waited, and waited some more.

'Unit assigned, ETA 15 minutes, please ensure your unit is on scene as we are very busy' 
Eventually the police arrived and en mass we knocked on the door. The patient's mother let us in and pointed us in the direction of the living room. Our patient was sat on the sofa, calm as anything.

"What's the problem today?"

"I don't want to go to work"

"What do you mean?"

"They say that I have to go to Jobcentre Plus tomorrow to get a job"

"And why don't you want to do that?"

"Because I shouldn't have to work? I've been on benefits for 20 years and now they say I'm well enough to work so won't give me my benefits what I'm entitled to. They can't just make me work like that"

"What have you called an ambulance for? What do you expect us to do?"

"Tell them I can't work"

"We can't do that. That is between you, your GP and the Jobcentre"

At this point the wound up copper took over. She lectured him about the inappropriate use of emergency services, told him not to call again and told him that we were not all here to help him get out of working. If only we could get away with lecturing people like that. We all bundled out again, exchanged call signs and they left us doing paperwork. 

I hate people who abuse the benefits system. Benefits are there for people who physically CAN'T work or who have fallen on bad times. They are NOT there to live a life on without making the slightest effort or earning an honest living. It is people like this who have put the country in the mess it is in. This guy had mental health problems, there is no doubt about that, but has had treatment for that and deemed able to work. He is no longer medicated, he no longer attends any therapy and is not physically incapable of work. He doesn't want to work. THAT is the crux of the matter, and why doesn't he? Because he has never had to work before. He's lived his entire life on the taxpayer's money. Newsflash sunshine, I don't WANT to work. I do because I HAVE to, to pay bills, support my child and do what I want to do. GET A JOB!!

click to continue......


  1. Excellent writing really enjoying your blog #keepuptjegoodwork

  2. Another great blog Ella, the comment about the route of ur shifts journey looking like a middle finger had me lol.
    You have again highlighted some really important issues with honesty and humor, its why I love ur writing so much.
    Till next time.

    1. Thank you! Tune in tomorrow for the final installment! X

  3. Great blog, highlights just how stretched things already are and the consequences on both the people doing the job and the people they're doing the job for, and that's before the new wave of cuts hit. There should be an official slap for ppl like that last guy and anyone who wastes the emergency services time (although with a history of violence maybe his mum was the concerned one who made the call - it's not just husbands or boyfriends capable of beating up the woman they "love"). Great writing though - keep it up. Drinky.

    1. Thank you! See the final part tomorrow for further consequences!

  4. Great blog so far ! Shows all the food groups and the shite politicians don't want to know about


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