I appreciate I’m running the risk of being accused of “kicking a dog when he’s down” but I’m afraid the spectre of the state of the ‘QEH’ reared its ugly head again before my eyes over the course of the recent bank holiday. Having the misfortune of watching a relative struggling on the receiving end of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital’s weekend staffing rota, I found myself back in their wards with further problems for another relative who was in need of some urgent care over the bank holiday. I am sorry to report that, once again, staffing levels appeared to be stretched and although nurses could be heard and seen, the actual decision-making doctors were conspicuous by their absence.
The nurses were unfailingly kind and attentive but it was obvious to us all that both tiredness and frustration was making them, on occasions, irritable and a tad ‘short’ with people. I cannot imagine having such responsibility and being expected to deal with sick patients without close medical support from the registrars, consultants and juniors. Walking into the building on a gloriously sunny afternoon I could only feel sorry for those on shift while the rest of us had tootled off to the coast or were wolfing down sausages from the barbecue and quaffing rose. But when it comes down to brass tacks, we’re all volunteers and I don’t imagine anyone joined the profession thinking it would only be bank hours nine-to-five Monday to Friday?
I wasn’t aware of any neglect or failure to attend whenever needed but there was no doubt that I was not the only one feeling uneasy about the dearth of doctors in the building.
Sunday came and went, Monday came and went and families sitting alongside us talking to their sick relatives were all making the same grumbles about the lack of communication and the feeling that staff were stretched to breaking point.
Tuesday morning arrived bright and early and walking into the main entrance it was staggering to notice how the entire atmosphere had changed. There were people bustling about everywhere, suddenly the kind of people who carry clipboards were clippetty-clopping up and down corridors and there were doctors on hand to answer questions and review X-rays and prescribe medicines. It was like the entire hospital had been under sedation and with the dawning of a new week the whole place had woken up.
In both instances the people close to me could have been discharged earlier if it hadn’t been for the undeniable fact that a suitable medic wasn’t available to make the decision to allow them home, which would have been to everyone’s benefit.
One more thing. If Ms Hosein is really serious about upping the QEH’s image she might like to do something about the thousands of revolting cigarette butts literally piling up in the gutters and littering flower beds and walkways by the main doors. It looked more like a nasty pub entrance than a centre of medical excellence!