Saturday 19 January 2013

The Three Stooges

“43  year old female, chest pains”

This job set the tone for what would turn at to be a very familiar night shift. I exhaled in frustration when I saw the address. It was one of the many regulars on our patch. She was a wine-drinking alcoholic; she always called for chest pains, always went to hospital and was always rude and obnoxious. Tonight would prove to be no different to the norm. We stomped up the concrete stairwell, navigating our way past the vomit on the stairs. Lush! Her door was wide open like it always is. We walked down the landing to her bedroom like we always do and found her lying on her bed smoking a fag like we always do. Then followed a very familiar conversation.

“Hello again”

“Alright luv”

“What’s the problem tonight?”

“I got chest pain”

“Same as before?”


“Can we do an ECG?”

“Yeah, go on then”

We do the ECG and all her obs. They are all normal like always. 

“Shall we pop you up to hospital?”

“Yeah, I need to see a doctor.”

"Still got the pain?"

"Nah, but it should be checked out."

So, without any fuss he all walked (she staggered) arm in arm to the ambulance. We drove to the same hospital as we always do, where I gave the same handover as I always do. On to the next!

“37 year old female, suicidal, taken an overdose, police on scene”

We all say that the first job sets the tone and shifts have a theme but they really really do and I don’t know why! This address was also well known to us. It was the residence of the most abusive drunk in our area. I say abusive, she abuses the police and most ambulance crews but for some unknown reason she loves me! We pulled up next to the police car, which seems to be a permanent fixture outside her flat. In the hallway outside was one of the coppers.

“Good luck, she kicks off every time I go inside”

Sitting there in her underwear and dressing gown, she swigged vodka while smoking a roll-up. Her face lit up as soon as she saw me.

“Heya babe, tell the pigs they can go and you don’t need them”

As much as calling the police 'pigs' wasn’t acceptable, in all honesty, their presence was only going to make things worse and I knew they’d be only to happy to leave.

“I’m happy to deal with this, I know her well, she’ll be fine with me”

They were only too happy to leave and were gone near enough before I'd finished the sentence! It was the same story, drinking vodka to excess, self harmed her forearms, refused hospital and then there was a 45-minute battle to convince her to go. Sometimes she wins and sometimes I win. Tonight I won. Hospital was the plan and all we had to do first was go through the charade of collection her ‘valuables’ (vodka) and hiding them so they can’t be stolen. After completing this ritual we headed off and handed her over to the less than enthusiastic nurse. 

We left the hospital to go and get fuel and hopefully a Wild Bean coffee and a pre-packed sandwich. It really is 'gourmet on the go'! Well actually it wasn't because we never made it. We were flagged down by a member of the public for what appeared to be an unconscious man in the street.

“u/k male, unconscious, running call”

We called it in and were sent down a CAD number. It shouldn’t have surprised me that he was well known to us. I had picked him up yesterday about 200 yards down the road. In fact, he was being picked up 3-4 times a day, each time by an ambulance and each time taken to hospital. The problem is, each time, the hospital sober him up enough to be able to walk and then either sit him in the waiting room until he walks out or discharges him. He walks up the hill to the shops, buys more booze, drinks said booze and passes out again. The hospital are not willing or able to invest time in fixing the problem & we have no ability to anything else with an unconscious drunk person other than take them to hospital. The cycle will continue until he stops drinking or dies. The latter seemed most likely. 

Tonight, he was lying at the bus stop next to his empty bottle of scotch. He was face down and had wet himself. I often wonder what he was like before this. What kind of life did he lead? What family does he have? What friends did he have? Now there appears to be no one. The only people around him are the members of the public who call 999, the ambulance crews that take him to hospital and the nurses that kick him out. What can we do?! We scooped him up off the floor and onto our bed. We did the usual obs and then drove the half-mile to hospital. We got the usual looks of distain from the nurse and rolled him onto the bed. To be fair to the nurse, we had just brought in three abusive alcoholics in as many hours, but still……not our fault!

Alcohol is something that the NHS does not do well, a bit like obesity. We only treat in the short term when it is too late. Very little is done when warning signs are there. Accessing services is far to difficult and it is a lot easier to just give a bag of fluids and let them go than find out the cause and refer to the appropriate places. It’s a shame, if they invested in prevention rather than cure, the long term saving could be huge. Shame no manager or politician is ever that long sighted.

Off we went for fuel, this time we made it. The sandwich was rank and the coffee was a poor substitute to Costa but beggars can’t be choosers! After the start to the shift we had had it was a necessity! We went off and did a few more jobs to a different hospital and at about 2am came back to our area. We handed over our drunken teen to the staff and booked them in. I walked through the busy waiting room and what did I see?! All my regulars sat in a line on the bench together! The Three Stooges! That image summed up how the NHS treats alcohol and mental health. A sad sight but one that amused me! 

“Evening all!”


  1. ah alcohol, dont you just love it? I also wholeheartedly agree it isnt handled well at all. But there are also those individuals who just dont want help. Yet we still have a regular attendance to them. What should become of those individuals that despite every single persons valid attempt to provide them with help they still refuse everything. Yet we still have to go out because theres always that one chance that this time things will be different. I feel this isnt address correctly either tbh.

    1. No you're right, none of it is handled well at all and no one in power cares enough to make the changes that are needed!

  2. Thank you for what you and your colleagues do .

  3. Maybe when the election gets closer there will be more'll need it in writing though!
    Thank you again! Your work is much appreciated!


I love comments! All bloggers do! If you have something to say, agree or disagree I would love to hear it! I will reply to all! (or try my very best!) If however, you're a troll, save your breath!

Due to an increase in spam I moderate comments but ALL genuine comments will be posted. See above exclusions!