Friday, 23 September 2011

Why Can't Real Life Be Like Casualty?

Long title for a blog, but I didn’t know what else to call it.

Picture the scene. Someone collapses in the arms of her husband right outside the doors of a large (and famous) hospital. A nurse who just happens to be passing rushes to their aid, yelling for help. Before she even reaches them, a porter is hurtling out of the doors with a trolley, doctors are stringing their stethoscopes round their necks and hurrying to help.

“Don’t worry, love,” a lovely, kind nurse says. The unfortunate person is hurried into the hospital and is taken care of. Another nurse steps in to comfort the distressed husband.

Oh, if only.

Yesterday my husband was waiting outside this large, famous hospital when he saw an elderly man pressing an elderly lady up against the wall. He went over to see if he could help and saw the woman’s eyes were rolling back. “Please get help,” the man with her said. “She’s fainted.”

So he rushed into the hospital and the first people he saw were two porters. “Can you help, please,” he said. “A lady has collapsed outside.”

Sharp intake of breath. “Sorry, mate. Not our job. See the person on the desk.” Can you imagine Big Mac saying that?

So he went to the desk. “No, sorry, I can’t help you. You’ll have to go to A & E.”

So off he went to A & E, all the time aware that the poor man outside was trying to hold his wife up.

“You’ll have to wait till I’ve finished my phone call,” the person on the desk said.

“But someone has collapsed.”

Shrug. He said it wouldn't have been so bad if they'd been rushed off their feet, but there were plenty of staff standing round doing nothing and they just looked the other way. Nice.

Eventually, one of the porters turned up and said it was being sorted. When my beloved went back outside, a nurse was walking out to see what was happening. The lady was now on the ground unconscious. I’m sure they took care of her, I hope they did. But why wait so long?

“I should have just helped him get her to a bench,” Beloved said. “I didn’t think it would take so long to get help.”

Maybe he should just have run into the hospital screaming and shouting until someone did something. That might have worked.

It seems to me that the people who are pushy and make the most noise are the ones who get on. Those who quietly get on with it and keep their heads down go unnoticed.

At school, the naughty kids are rewarded with stars and when they get enough stars they get a prize. What do the good kids get? The ones that don’t go round thumping people or disrupting the classroom or cheeking the teacher or swearing? They get nothing. Does that sound right to you?


  1. Maybe he should have said it was Katie Price (or any other 'celeb') who'd collapsed. Bet the response would have been different.

  2. What a very depressing society we now live in sometimes. That poor woman - and worried husband!

  3. How depressing, Teresa. But I'm afraid typical of today. No-one seems to want to do anything for which they haven't been trained and/or paid. As for common sense and compassion...well, you can forget those.

  4. That's very sad. And it was very nice of your hubby to go to so much trouble to help. You've got a real life hero there :-)

  5. Could have tried Shouting is 'there a private Doctor in the house?' rather than a NHS Doctor who doesn't get paid enough.

    It very say that our expection of life doesn't live up TV world. I'm sorry both for the poor man and your husband

  6. That is so wrong on so many levels. Hope Karma comes back to bite them on the you know what. Nice of your husband to try and get help too. I'm stunned that even happened... so wrong!

  7. You're absolutely right, Patsy!

    It is depressing, Rosemary. I really don't like people sometimes.

    Yes, Frances, it is typical which is why it's so depressing. No one seems to care any more.

    Aw thanks Lacey.

    Yes that would have worked, Jarmara.

    You wouldn't think it would happen would you, Diane :-(

  8. How awful and I bet your hubbie feels bad now when all he did was try to help. What is wrong with these people? I think they must become immune to suffering and lose their compassion.

  9. My grandmother used to say, "A squeaky gate gets the most attention." She was so right. Hats off to your husband, Teresa.

  10. He does feel bad, Morton - he says he should have done things differently, but how can you know until afterwards?

    Thanks, Martin. That reminds me of something my mum used to say "Empty vessels make the most noise."

  11. Which hospital was it? Your hubby could actually write them a letter explaining what happened. It will make them realise that they don't just exist in a total hypothetical vacuum and that if they behave like this, it will get around.

  12. The problem is everything has to be done by the book these days. there's no room for flexibility or common sense.

  13. Absolutely apalling but, sadly, only too believable.

    But not everyone is like that - as your lovely hubby proves.

  14. I won't name and shame them, Jenny for a number of reasons. I'll certainly consider a letter though.

    Common sense is so rare these days, Keith.

    I think most people are decent, Gail - he was just unlucky to have bumped into a bunch of jobsworths that particular day.

  15. What a horror story, Teresa, but I think I can beat it. Here, (in Burnley, Lancs) they have taken our A and E and shifted it to Blackburn, twelve miles away. Recently someone collapsed outside the gates of our hospital(Burnley General). Where did the ambulance take her/him? To A andE at Blackburn... PS; anyone wonder where they get these words (?) they want you to type in so your comment can be published? I think it is vulcanese.

  16. Not defending the hospital at all when I say this but I have to say, having worked in hospitals - the nurses and medical staff are quite often tied up in red tape - it's the managers and those up top who state that, insurance wise, nurses and the like are not covered outside of the front door of the hospital. So if medical staff do go out side, they do so of their own volition and will, quite often get into a lot of trouble for daring to break rules and going out to help someone in need. They also lay themselves wide open to litigation should anything occur while they are tending a casualty outside of their area.

    It's like when staff give first aid outside of their workplace in the street for example, off duty, as I have done many times, I am not covered should anything go wrong, but I do it because I want to help the person. If I were to walk past and not help and I was later identified as a nurse, I would get in trouble. Yet if I stay and help and something goes wrong, I will also hget into trouble, so, as a nurse, you can't win!

    We hear lots of negative stories of the NHS but very little about the good the NHS does. It's one of the reasons I left nursing. You can work yourself to death trying to do the best for your patients, despite the management and govenmental restrictions, low staffing, etc, but most nurses really do not get the thanks and respect they deserve. They most certainly don't get paid enough.

    If you were in an accident, for instance, who would you rather have to help you? An overpaid footballer with an inflated ego or an underpaid, undervalued, but highly skilled and caring nurse?

    Most people have no idea of the pressures NHS staff are sometines under - and, believe me, it's not nice for the staff who are forbidden to go out of their workplace, ie, the hospital, to see to someone who has collapsed, either. But until The management change the rules, it won't be them who gets the flack, it will be the poor nurses and Drs who continue to get the bad press.

    I don't think it's right, and I think what happened to the poor lady and her husband is diabolical but I just wanted to present a more rounded argument and show how it is from the other side of the coin.


  17. It just seems plain silly to me, Marian.
    Vulcanese - sounds like Vulcan speak!

  18. Julie, I should say I know people who work in the NHS who are very dedicated and caring and I've been at the receiving end of brilliant care myself.

    I'm certainly not anti NHS.

    But as you say, you personally couldn't walk past someone who needed help and it's a shame that people like you are the ones leaving the profession.

    I'm afraid some things can't be blamed on red tape or overwork though. Not from what I've seen on my side of the coin anyway.

  19. About a year ago where I work a woman collapsed just outside. 999 was called and they advised us not to move her and to keep her warm. Fleeces were gathered, and my then manager knelt beside the lady making sure she was ok until the ambulance arrived.

    There was no question of anyone saying 'computer says no' once we knew someone needed help. On paper we aren't even allowed to carry a customers item to their car because of insurance, but I'd never make an old lady, or anyone, struggle out with a patio set.

    Surely it's human nature just to help when someone needs it?

  20. I agree, Anonymous. Good Samaritans don't look the other way.

    My beloved asked me to point out that he didn't expect anyone to help - he just wanted a wheelchair to take outside so he could bring the lady in himself.

  21. It's shocking and I don't think there's any good excuse for it.

    My friend's mother fell over when she lived in sheltered housing and when my friend asked one of the carers to help pick her up she was told she couldn't - it was against health and safety - and that they'd have to call an ambulance. And they did. Just to pick her up! What a waste of time and money.

  22. Oh how ridiculous, Karen. How awful for the poor lady to have to wait for an ambulance crew to arrive. Sigh. Bugger health and safety!

  23. Not a good story at all Teresa.

    First, I should say that I have nothing but praise for the NHS staff who helped my husband when he had a heart attack recently. From the moment we reached A&E to the moment he was discharged, the care was wonderful.

    That said, I do think we are all too scared to help these days in case we are sued or attacked for it.
    How good would it be to go back to those days when not all strangers were regarded as demons and helping someone to their feet or to their bed was not considered harmful? Alas, those days have gone :-(

  24. When my partner had his stroke, they left him on the trolley for hours instead of treating him, and if only they had, he wouldn't have been paralysed down one side. There was a large family there with loads of kids and the woman was doing a lot of screaming and shouting (not in English) and of course there were people buzzing round them. In the end, as a normally meek person, I decided I would start screaming, and at last they took some notice and decided he had had a stroke. It was unbelievable and I think he should have sued them. Re that poor lady, if someone had called an ambulance, she would probably have been attended to faster, even if the ambulance only had to drive a few yards. It's all about rules and protocol, isn't it? I had a lady fall and knock herself out in front of me. There was a hospital down the road, but I called the ambulance which was there in a few minutes. What a world this has become! *heavy sigh*

  25. I'm so glad your husband's experience was a good one, Deborah. I have heard a lot of similar stories and it gives you faith!

    That is awful about your partner, hydra and everyone knows in the case of a stroke time is of the essence.
    It was a similar situation when my mum was seriously ill in hospital lined up in a corridor with a load of other trolleys. It was the people making most fuss and noise who were getting the attention - and they weren't the ones that needed it.
    I join you in that heavy sigh!

  26. That's just shocking - I'm speechless.


  27. That is awful, but it says a great deal about how things are today.

    Bring back the old days when people really did care about each other.

  28. So was I, Suz!

    Shame isn't it, Eileen.