Sunday 1 July 2012

Back to the waiting room!

"25 year old female, head injury, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision"

For various reasons I have found myself sat in a hospital waiting room a number of times in recent years! I first blogged about it in 'Musings from a Waiting Room' after I was a patient! Within 6 months I was there again, it provided me with yet more musings and grumbles that inspired 'More Musings from Another Waiting Room'. Well today, I was back! This time with an injured sister and 4 hours of people-watching! Having blogged twice about it before I walked into the A & E with my observation head on and boy, I had plenty to look at and amuse me!

As the two sets of sliding doors open, the sea of people, 39 to be precise, all turned their heads or looked up to see who and what was entering the queue. It is always an awkward moment! We headed over to the reception desk where we were 'greeted' by a witch. I'll get on to her general behaviour shortly, but she specifically annoyed me with my sister's GP details. My sister hasn't been to the GP for about 8 or 9 years. When she did, she was at university so didn't know her current details. I offered to go and find out and let her know shortly; 'It'll be too late by then, I can't add it later' was the reply! Liar! The funny thing was she didn't recognise me out of uniform but I see and speak to her most days and she was talking nonsense! We finished booking in and went to take our... nope, there are no seats, we'll stand. It took a good 5 minutes for one of the non-sick relatives to offer my sister a seat despite the pained look on her face and the concerned one on mine. Some people! Pah!

The Foot Injuries - I don't know what they had been doing on this particular morning but there were at least four young females with ankle injuries; none of them older than 30 and they were all there with their partners. Each time their name was called, out came the exaggerated hobble, with the half-caring/ half-embarrassed partner walking beside them with a semi-caring arm on the shoulder. After 10 minutes behind 'the doors' they all walked out with a tubi-grip round their sprain able to walk much better. A few even cracked a joke with the other sprainees saying 'it's only a sprain hahahahahaha'. Idiots. Yes, it's only a sprain, that's why your attention seeking hobble and wincing was so embarrassing to watch. Man up!

The Receptionist - She got my back up the minute I walked through the door. I know she is probably weary with the hoards of pathetic illnesses that walk through the door, the rudeness she gets from most, and the complaints about waiting times, but I also see my fair share of these people. The fact is, like how I represent the ambulance service, she is representing the hospital and the NHS. There is no need to be rude, and given that we were polite, said 'good morning', and smiled, there is no need to bark. Then there is the patient confidentiality thing that really irks me. I could have written down ever name, every address, every GP, every next of kin and every medical ailment of everyone who walked in. She repeated everything, loudly, most of the time said 'pardon', and made what is already a horrible experience an embarrassing one for anyone who had to join the crowd. Before I left I reminded her that I work here every day and I little bit of common courtesy would not go a miss. 

The Door - When it is your time, a door opens and a nurse calls your name, normally it is mispronounced and then everyone looks as the ill or injured patient slowly makes their way to the door. Then they disappear off into the unseen heart of the hospital. 5 minutes later they return and from where I was sitting I could see their approach to the door. I say door, but they were double doors, one of which was locked. The one that wasn't locked had a button that required pressing before the magnetic lock was released. I watched on in amusement as every single person walked into the locked door which didn't budge, followed by confusion over why the other door would not open. It was hilarious! Some would end up with their face squashed against the glass as the exuberance to open it ended in an epic fail! I know a simple sign would change things, but where is the fun in that?!

The Vending Machines - Every hospital waiting room has them. This one has three! A hot drinks machine, a cold drinks machine and one stuffed with crisps, sweets and chocolate. None of them were working, yet despite numerous complaints to 'the receptionist' no 'out of order' signs were put up. I watched on from the opposite side of the room as countless people put their money in and heard the ominous drop as the coins unceremoniously dropped through the machine. They would try again and again, scrapping the coins on the side of the machine, putting them in slowly or pushing them in as fast as possible, each time with the same result. Frustration! What amused me more than anything is that no one who had tried, failed, complained and re-took their seat told any other unsuspecting customer! Aren't people great?! They probably did so because they were getting as much enjoyment from watching people fail as I was!

The Cure - One thing I found amazing was the vast number of people who didn't wait for their name to be called, or didn't wait to see the doctor and finish the treatment they had been waiting hours for. It was as if having to wait cured their illness or injury. With a sudden huff and puff and a snide comment about the hospital being a joke, they would up and leave. Every now and again a name would be called, the heads would turn and then all look back at the waiting nurse. She would say the name again and then disappear back behind 'the door'. It does beg the question why come to hospital in the first place?! Did they need to be here?! Why wait 3 hours but not 4?! Have those 3 hours removed the pain?! It seems a bizarre way to waste a day! Perhaps people should have a long hard think; How ill am I?! Do I want to wait 4 hours? Will I wait 4 hours? Can I get treatment without having to sit in a hospital waiting room?! I reckon as high as 80% of people in a hospital waiting room at any one time don't need to be there!

The Silent Button - SERIOUSLY. Does no one know where it is? Can no one put their bloody phone on silent? It's annoying enough hearing everyone's phone conversation consisting of:

"Hello mate!"

".......alright mate, what you up to? (I'm guessing)"

"Yeah I'm ok, just in hospital at the moment"

"...........really?! are you ok?! (I'm guessing)"

"Yeah I'm fine....blah blah blah"

Well if you are fine, bugger off. And if you won't and are intent on sitting here, turn your phone on silent and take your calls outside. Text message tones, ridiculous ring tones, notification alerts, email tones, games and keypad tones. TURN THEM ON SILENT! 

This was just another bad experience to add to my long list. On top of all the above there was the usual crying babies, badly behaved kids, drunk people, mental health patients starring at you and people being just rude and obnoxious. I won't miss it, but I'm sure I'll be back at some point for the fourth instalment. God I hate hospitals!


  1. The only time I visited an A&E I took a delightful young lady I had recently met. She had a quite severe wrist injury> three and a half hours I spent waiting were some of the most amusing and enjoyable hours in my life.
    eric burrows

  2. Some people treat it as a trip out..and then there are those that on a sun just can't be arsed to wait for a gp an nos worker ;)

    1. It does seem like family holidays sometimes!

  3. One more observation....the reception police...all a&e`s and gp practices have them...and what business of theirs is it what`s wrong with you :)

  4. Totally rings a bell. Spent a lovely time at Newham general last Saturday. Did you have the obligatory sleeping man taking up 5 seats everyone is too scared to wake?

    The receptionist was obviously banging Satan or his nephew as she had a face like she had a red hot poker up her arse as well

    My problem was I was too sick to complain so sat there for hours. 2hrs 30 before even seeing triage!!!!

    Not fun

    1. "The receptionist was obviously banging Satan or his nephew" this alone has made my day! Love that! Hope you are feeling better, though Newham has form for making people worse!

  5. Ah, the ever-present bitchface receptionist. 'Death' Valley Hospital has a real gem. My mum had surgery for an incarcerated hernia in January and was discharged a few days later. A couple of days on she wasn't getting any better, in fact she was projectile vomiting everywhere and was peeing what looked like mustard. We took her straight to her GP, who phoned the hospital directly, and they told the GP to send mum straight through when we got to A&E. We had a note from the GP to say effectively we could skip the 'queue' and there was a doc appraised of the situation.

    Said receptionist totally ignored the letter, and our pleas, so mum had to sit in the hotter-than-Hades waiting room covered in her own vomit for 3 hours (She'd projectile yakked again on the way to the hospital.) When we finally got to see someone, they said 'Oh, you were supposed to come straight through!' *Seethe*

    The irony of the whole situation was mum had been admitted for 3 days after the op, and because the ward failed to treat the UTI they KNEW she had while she was there, she ended up being admitted for another 5 days as the kidney infection was so severe. Another 5 days of NHS treatment vs a couple of quid on antibiotics in the first place. Hmmm. Oh dear!


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