Monday, October 01, 2007

In Stitches

Many moons ago, I blogged about the proposed demise of our local hospital's A&E. Despite a valiant campaign fought by our brilliant MP Chris Grayling, our A&E department has already been downgraded to minors only and should I need the assistance of an ambulance it will be taking me to St Helier some five miles (and forty minute drive in heavy traffic) away.

I do as you can imagine, feel rather strongly about the issue of local hospitals being shut down as I think it is only a matter of time before people start dying as a result of this wrongheaded and foolish policy.

So it is with great pleasure that I am happy to promote In Stitches by Dr Nick Edwards, himself an A&E doctor, who is spearheading a campaign to get the tide turned. Nick says he believes in the NHS and the principles of the NHS. Me too. So do go and get hold of a copy of his book. And if you are unlucky enough to be living in an area where your local hospital is facing closure, kick up as much fuss about it as possible. Eventually someone somewhere will have to start listening...

PS I don't know Nick personally, but as soon as I read the comment by Patricia Hewitt I knew I had to get a copy - Patricia Blewitt being the person who finally put the nail in the coffin of our A&E by declaring that as the people who live in my town are all rich we don't need an NHS hospital. If you live in Surrey you are automatically able to pay for health, schools etc....


A new book (In stitches; the highs and lows of life as an A&E doctor, by Dr. Nick Edwards) has been written looking at what it like working in the NHS and A&E in particular. Despite its tongue in cheek style, issues important to anyone who works for the NHS or uses the NHS are addressed. It has been written by a doctor who with one hand supports wholeheartedly the ideals of the NHS and in the other hand is frustrated by the way it is being run.

It is hitting national interest, appearing in the Guardian Newspaper and Newsnight amongst others. It can be bought from good book shops, a couple of not so good book shops and from (type in stitches in the search for books bit.)

Read on for a synopsis of the book…………

Despite the headlines, actually the NHS has just had its best year ever.'
Patricia Hewitt, Secretary of State for Health, eulogising to the BBC, 22nd April 2006

'Despite what the politicians say, things seem to have gone a bit tits up recently.'
Dr Nick Edwards, A&E doctor, ranting to his mates down the pub, 22nd April 2006

Dr Nick Edwards is an Accident and Emergency (A&E) doctor working in the UK and a passionate believer in the NHS. However the reforms, political correctness and the Anglo-Saxon culture of binge drinking and fighting and the resulting A&E visits are a strain on his sanity. So to keep up his morale, he began writing down his feelings - a form of literary cathartic therapy - the results of which make up this book.

From dealing with cardiac arrests and car accidents, to people with 'Arrest Avoidance Syndrome' and others who hadn't quite read the big red sign above their heads as they walked into A&E, In Stitches paints a vivid picture of what it's really like working at the sharp end of the NHS today. It's funny, it's heartbreaking and it's infuriating. It's also more informative than any government press release.

So join Dr Nick Edwards as he describes the frustrations and joys of working in the NHS. The traumas and tragedies, the patients and colleagues and most of all the successes and humour that make up life at the front line of medical care: Accident and Emergency.

Note to reader: Ever-conscious of meaningless targets, the author would like it to be known that 98% of the stories contained in this book were written in under 4 hours!

Example Extract from the book

A sign the world has gone mad?

What has had happened to my patients today? They seemed to be getting lost when I sent them for X-ray. I'd given the same directions as normal, there had been no secret muggers hiding in the hospital corridors and as far as I know, no problems with space - time dimensions in our particular corner of the universe.

I went to X-ray to investigate. I found it quickly because I knew the way. However, I looked for the signs for X-ray and they were gone. The nice, old-fashioned and slightly worn signs had gone; they had been replaced by a sign saying 'Department of Diagnostic Imaging'. What the hell? I know what it means but only just and only because I have been inundated by politically correct 'shit-speak' for a number of years. What a pointless waste of money; to satisfy some manager, they replaced a perfectly good sign with one that means bugger all to 90% of people. Why don't they change the toilet sign to 'Department of Faecal and Urinary Excrement' or the cafe to 'Calorific Enhancement Area'. Who makes these decisions? Who is employed to do such pointless stuff? Why? Why?? Why???

I needed a caffeinated beverage in a disposable single-use container - management-speak for shit NHS/Happy Shopper instant coffee. I went to sit in the 'Relaxation, Rest and Reflection Room', previously known as staff room. There, the nurses were moaning that tonight one of their colleagues had called in sick and to save money their shift would not be covered by a bank nurse. In A&E, staff shortages can seriously undermine the safety of patient care.

I am sure this genius plan was decided by some personnel manager who I doubt has ever seen a patient, cannula or trolley, and therefore is obviously an expert at making nursing planning decisions. We have a hospital that can fund unnecessary new signs, but not replace nurses when they off sick. So, tonight who is going to go looking for the patients when they got lost on route to the Department of Diagnostic Imaging?


bec said...

Having a quiet antipodean chuckle at your expense here - very unfairly - at the thought of five miles being a) considered a distance and b) capable of generating 40 minutes worth of traffic!

I'm with you though: any cut to health and community services is to be resisted fiercely and three cheers for Dr Edwards and co - good luck with the campaign!

Jane Henry said...

Hi Bec, yes I guess those distances must seem pretty nutty to an Aussie!

However my fil spent three months in the hospital that is further away and on occasion it took us an hour to get there. At the time mil was living nearer to that hospital but unable to drive, so on my days off I would drive her over there, and in the evenings Spouse and bil would visit both him and her. Spouse frequently arrived home at 9.30/10ish on these occasions. At that particular point we didn't know if he was going to survive or not, which is stressful enough. But to have the travelling on top makes it hideous. And if the worst comes to the worst we might lose the option of St Helier and all have to go St George's in Tooting which is probably nearer ten miles away and takes HOURS to get to. I certainly wouldn't want to be having a baby in such conditions, nor having a child with an asthma attack (which has happened to me several times) hence my support for this campaign.

The local paper did report this week that our hospital has been reprieved for now. But we don't know how long. There has been a long and sorry catalogue of missed opportunities, too much talk, far too much money spent on schemes that now aren't going to happen, and all the time you think, if they'd ONLY spent the money on doing up the hospital/encouraging new staff/improving services we could have a fabulous community hospital we could all be proud of.

The moment that made me the crossest in the whole sorry saga was when Patricia Hewitt (then Health Minister) approved a scheme to rebuild St Helier (which funnily enough has a Labour MP fighting it's corner) at Epsom's expense (where the incumbent is Tory). She more or less said those posh people in Surrey can afford to go private. Which is outrageous as the majority of people I know are struggling with massive mortgages etc and can't afford to do anything private.

Point is we need both hospitals.

Here endeth the diatribe!

Hope we knock the sock out of you today ,but have a feeling it will be the other way round (Unless Johnny comes Good again)

Anonymous said...

I read In Stitches after reading your blog and enjoyed it.

I found many of the anecdotes amusing, but thought Dr Edwards sometimes pulled his punches and hedged around too many strong points. He was also too apologetic sometimes.

A much better read, I think, is Paramedic's Diary: Life and Death on the Streets, by Stuart Gray.

This book is about a year in the life of a British paramedic. It is genuinely shocking in parts and hugely uplifting in others.

After reading it I know I would not want to be a paramedic but I am very glad that there are people like Stuart who do.

Keep up the good work