One of the jobs that we do from our station is inter-hospital transfers, this isn't unusual – most ambulance stations have to do their fair share of them. What is unusual for us (and our sister station) is that we have one of the shortest transfers possible.
The map you can see is our local hospital, at one end of the red line I have expertly drawn is the entrance to the A&E department, at the other end is the 'Gateway surgical centre' (GSC) [PDF]. The GSC is where the planned surgical day and short stay cases are handled.
It is apparently a very green building.
That red line, the length of our transport is 400 metres. I measured it.
When a patient suffers a set-back from their planned surgery – for example they get an infection or they start to suffer angina pain they need to go to the 'big' hospital.
And that is when we get called.
The GSC calls 999 and asks for an ambulance to take their patient to the 'proper' hospital.
All of which is dependant on there actually being an ambulance available – which there isn't always. If we are busy then they have to wait, but if they tell us the patient has difficulty in breathing or chest pain then they get a 'cat A' response.
If there is a shortage of ambulances then little old Doris having a heart attack will not have an ambulance because we are moving a patient 400 metres down the road.
You would have thought that, while they were planning the WiFi, the rain water collection and the heat recovery, they may have given a though as to how to move a patient 400 metres without the need for a frontline emergency ambulance.
I mention this because of a recent job I had transferring someone from the GSC to the A&E department, and the attitude that met me when we arrived.
We'd been called to a member of staff who had been taken unwell, so we dutifully blue lighted the 400 metres to go and pick them up. We pulled our stretcher up to the ward where the patient was, rung the bell to be allowed access onto the ward and waited for the door to be answered.
When it was finally answered* by a nurse I wasn't met with a 'hello', or a 'welcome'.
No, what the nurse said to me was, “Oh, it's you – you took your time”.
I looked at my crewmate – did I really hear that correctly? Was a supposed professional being dismissive towards me?
'Did I hear that right?', I asked my crewmate. She nodded yes while picking her jaw up off the floor.
Well, I had to challenge that statement – we'd only got the job three minutes earlier, so Control must have been holding the call for people who were ill, but not within an actual hospital.
The nurse wasn't interested in talking to me. So I did what I do when I get annoyed at nursing homes. I become Extremely Competent And Professional.
So I tried to get a history, none of the staff there seemed to know what had happened. I asked what the patient's observations were – all I got was 'they are all right'. When the staff suggested that I couldn't be trusted to handover to A&E that the patient had been given a painkiller I mentioned that, unlike them, I'm allowed to give drugs without a doctor's say so.
I just kept asking them reasonable questions that they couldn't answer to let them know that I knew what I was doing, even if they didn't.
(At least they had done a blood sugar measurement – they told me that three times. It was one of the few things they did tell me about).
In part I suspect that it is because they haven't the faintest idea what we do, in part it's because they don't often deal with ambulance crews, in part it's because they don't deal with 'emergency' situations and in part I think there is an element of looking down their nose at us.
After all, we are just there to transport a patient for them, it's not like we know how to look after people.
The thing is, “Oh, it's you – you took your time“, is something that I would be surprised to hear coming from a member of the public, but to hear that from a nurse – who we are here to help just pushes my buttons.
It was quite amusing to see the expression on the A&E nurse's face when I handed the patient over to them and told them what had been going on.
*In the past I've resorted to going through the hospital switchboard in order to phone the ward and let them know we have arrived in many of the hospitals I frequent
I'm not dead, nor giving up blogging – I've just had a fair bit going on in my life at the moment, hopefully things will have settled down for a bit.