Posted tagged ‘NHS waiting times’

First serve: Do no harm

June 29, 2011


This is the season of strawberries. After a healthy game of tennis with my friend, Chibber, we passed a hospital with a casualty department. I say this because not all medical centres have emergency depots. Tennis players beware. If while mistiming the ball yet still using the obligatory open-mouthed scream a tennis ball sticks in your throat the nearest hospital might not attend to you as A and E is not in their syllabus.

As we sat on the steps outside drinking our cola and eating mars bars, into the conversation I lobbed a possible winner. Forgoing a check-in, how long could you sit in the waiting room before a nurse or administrator asked if you were OK. Now these places are open 24/7 with rotating staff you could be in a perpetual kind of medical limbo. Not giving your details you are not in the triage system and could just sit there as a concerned family member waiting for your sickly kin. There’s a strong possibility of being overlooked.

Chibber reasoned -divinely- that when the waiting room eventually emptied in the small hours someone with a uniform would enquire if they could help you thus abiding by their motto: Primoris operor non punctum. I was not so sure of his logic or the motto. There was only one thing for it. We went and waited in the waiting room.

A few hours passed, a lot of bandaged persons came and went, many unfortunates on trolleys were wheeled in and out, concerned family members sat and stood and slunk away, noticed and yet unnoticed. Sat in our uncomfortable chairs we were invisible men to the receptionists. Chibber came round to my way of thinking: this could last as long as Isner and Mahut.

We watched the smokers drift outdoors for a puff. This gave us a chance to discuss the most famous smokers of all time. This was a list and a half: Churchill. JFK, Castro, Sinatra, Freud, Socrates (Brazil football World Cup star). After a much heated discussion as though both cola addicts we were puritan non-smokers, we couldn’t put a fag paper between Michelle Pfeiffer and Catherine Deneuve over who was the more glamorous.

We dozed the doze of a cola haze. The small hours came and they transformed into the long hours; nobody annoyed us. A new balls please batch of tennis ball stuck in the throat patients appeared.

Chibber unleashed the breakfast serve: when do the long hours begin, are they after the halfway mark at 7 o’clock and he yawned a grunting Sharapova yawn. Seven is still a small number when you think about it. Numbers go on forever and seven is near the start. We waited until nine, nine is a long houred number, nearly double-figured and home to centre forwards, nine was the time when the tennis courts opened again. Experiment over, we left the waiting room and went back to the land of the strawberries with our racquets fully refreshed. As it was in season it was busy, there was a queue. We waited.

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