“Come!”, she said to me.
She didn't even glance over her shoulder as she repeated, “Come”.
“Oi!”, I said back to her, more than a little miffed, “Don't talk to me like I'm one of your clients”.
We'd been working on the edge of our area so it was a pleasant surprise to find ourselves sent back to our own patch.
Top priority call – a transfer from the Mental Health Unit to the A&E department. All of 400 yards.
But no matter, the patient apparently had a swollen foot, and the mental health unit can't treat that – given the nurses I meet there I doubt that they could treat a shaving cut. We do this all the time, transferring patients this short distance.
I wasn't sure why this was a high priority call, apparently the nurse wanted it to be so. As they are on the scene and are apparently a trained professional our Control follow their lead.
So, at risk to me, my crewmate and any members of the public dumb enough to get in my way we blue-lighted it to the unit.
At the unit we were met by the the nurse who said nothing to me except, “Come”.
This is not the best way to get into the good books of the nice ambulance man.
She mumbled an apology as I followed her to the patient. There was another nurse in the patient's room and the patient was laying on the bed. I asked the nurses what the problem was; they looked at one another and umm-ed and aah-ed before telling me that she had a painful foot.
I looked at the patient's foot, it was a bit swollen and the blood test results in her notes showed an infection. She'd had the problem for at least four days.
“Who called the ambulance?”, I asked.
One of the nurses admitted to being the guilty party.
“You see, by asking for a blue-light response I have had to drive to this call with the same speed and risk as if I was going to someone who is having a heart attack”.
“She isn't having a heart attack”, said the nurse.
“I know, that's why it is inappropriate to ask for a blue-light response for a case like this”.
The nurse made no indication of understanding.
We spoke to the patient, she was refusing to go to the hospital, I tried persuading her but she was adamant that she wouldn't be leaving the bed.
I asked the nurses about the patients mental health issues.
“We don't know”, one nurse said, “she's only been here four days, so we don't know much about her.”
Ok – fair enough, maybe she has a long and complicated mental health history.
My crewmate flicked through her notes, “Says here that she is delusional and hasn't left her bed in two years”.
Yeah, that'll do for a history – seems that my crewmate suddenly knew the patient better than the nurses who'd been looking after her for the last few days.
The patient was refusing to leave the bed, she told me that one reason for this was that her foot hurt.
I turned to the nurses, “You've been giving her painkillers?”
“Yes”, they replied, “Paracetamol”.
“O.K. Paracetamol is a painkiller, that's good. When did she last have a dose?”
“Errr, you know it only lasts about four hours”.
The nurses looked sheepishly at each other.
I continued, “what you are saying is that this patient has been in pain, yet she hasn't been getting any painkillers. Is there any reason for this?”
The nurses said nothing.
We finally managed to get the patient to the hospital, accompanied by the traditional nurse escort that doesn't know the patient at all.
It was a stroke of luck that my complex manager was on station as we pulled up. I let her know what was going on, I let her know that we'd been run on blue lights across town so that we could quickly get to someone who'd been unwell for a few days, I let her know about the nurse being rude to me and I let her know that the patient hadn't been given painkillers.
She took our paperwork from us and promised to bring it up in the meeting that she has with them later this week.
It's nice to have a manager who supports you – but without having a complete turn-over of staff at the unit I can't see there being much of change. This isn't the first time I've had a problem with this unit.