This morning started normally. I got up with the alarm (on the third attempt) at 7am, got myself organised and out of the door. Its a quick walk to the bus stop and that there was a bus at the lights (well actually there were 2). It seemed that luck was on my side.
I dug out my phone to activate my bus ticket app. I must have been head down, looking at my phone and I guess I missed the step. The next thing I know, I’ve fallen into the bus and my shins hurt. After being helped up by 3 very kind gentlemen (including the bus driver) I hobbled to a seat, reassuring everyone I’m ok – as you do. It was about 7.45 am.
I went to check my legs, expecting some bruising, some red bumps. The first thing I noticed was my trouser leg was sopping wet. I lifted the leg and I had a little spouting fountain. It looked like something out of a TV drama! Eh – I think I might need an ambulance.
It wasn’t my best start to the morning.
Despite my accident, I’m actually planning to talk more about my experience of the NHS this morning. We hear so many bad things about waiting lists, the length of time to wait on an ambulance and the time you can wait to be treated at the Emergency Department (ED) etc. Like everyone else in the UK, I had heard these stories, and experienced some third hand when my mother-in-law was taken into hospital back in March (effectively taking 24 hours from when the ambulance was called by her GP to the point when she was actually admitted to the ward.
Once we knew what was happening, one of my initial thoughts was that I wished I’d brought my book with me as I expected to be sitting about for hours on end. Oh well, I have e-books on my phone.
It wasn’t enough to disrupt my morning by damaging my leg, I disrupted the bus and all its passengers too. As there was blood on the bus, the other passengers had to transfer busses and the bus itself was and sent for cleaning.
The driver and the First Bus Inspector, when he arrived, did a good job of looking after me. Did I need water? Anything to eat? Was I feeling ok? Was I feeling dizzy etc. The Inspector was even going to take me to the hospital/to the ED if necessary.
The bus driver called the emergency services on my behalf, and they were helpful. They explored a range of ways to help get me to the hospital. An ambulance was going to take at least 2 hours to come out, so they considered a rapid response unit before deciding to send a taxi to take me to the hospital. It was certainly a much faster option than waiting for an ambulance and once I was on my way to the hospital I guess the driver could take the bus to the depot for cleaning.
The Emergency Department
I got to the ED at about 8.30 am and checked in. They said I would have to go to the Minor Injury Unit but that it didn’t open until 9am. I wonder if I would have had to go there if I’d arrived earlier. Anyway, I had to sit in the ED until the unit opened. It really was like sitting in an eposide of Casualty – some drunk guy got brought in, dumped in a seat by someone who then just left – I guess that really does happen after all. I was glad when it was time for me to head across the car park to the Minor Injury Unit.
Minor Injury Unit
At 9am and along with a couple of other women waiting outside, we entered the converted portacabins that formed the Minor Injury Unit, The floor looked like a swimming pool – it was dry outside so I don’t think the roof is leaking, so I was a bit perplexed as to where the water came from. The explanation is the porter cleaning the floor didn’t have a mop to clean the floor so was just pouring water – not a particularly safe approach to floor cleaning.
Stepping carefully to avoid the puddles, I was shown to a cubicle almost as soon as I arrived. The cut on my leg was cleaned, treated, covered and I was given a tetanus shot – I have a real fear of needles, so that was probably the worst bit, once I realised I didn’t need stitches.
I was treated and back out of the hospital by about 10.15 am. I’d not had anything to eat or drink, so first stop was one of the hospital cafes to get coffee and a pastry before the journey home so I could rest my leg and get out of my soaked trousers. It was about 12 noon, by the time I got home as it was a 2-bus journey.
Review of my experience
From when I had my accident, to getting to the hospital, being treated and then getting back home, it took me about 4 hours in total, but the time in the hospital itself was less than 2 hours. I had expected to be there for many more hours,
What I’ve learned is that the NHS may still be struggling with having the right resources in the right place at the right time but they do appear to be finding ways to work around this when they can. Getting a taxi to take me to the hospital rather than waiting 2hrs plus on an ambulance. Setting up sub-units that can have a narrow focus, processing patients more quickly – such as referring me to the Minor Injuries Unit also seems an efficient approach. I did also notice that this wasn’t purely a walk-in emergency service as the other lady waiting for the unit to open had an appointment.
Generally things happened so quickly, that apart from the 30 minutes or so waiting for the Unit to open at 9, I didn’t have the time to read. I was able to get home, put my leg up and do some mark (always working).
I’ve been impressed with my experiences today (apart from the sore legs), I think we only ever hear about the bad experiences, so I felt it important to share a more positive one.