400 Metres

A Map of our local hospital

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.

16 thoughts on “400 Metres”

  1. the shortest transfer i've done is 1km. i say transfer, but it was actually a 999 call from a hospital…it's just as well it was nearby, as the call we got was to the private hospital just up the road from the NHS hospital where we'd just gone clear.

    job given as “bee sting – anaphylaxis”

    we arrived to find our patient with a little red dot on her arm, no swelling, no airway restriction, no sign of a stinger, but with resps upwards of 40, light headedness and tingly hands and feet.

    after having to physically stop an overblown “out of my way i'm a surgeon” giving the patient IV adrenaline, we then had to explain to the patient and the hospital staff (including supposedly trained doctors and nurses) the difference between Anaphylactic Shock and a panic attack…

    apparently she didn't start hyperventillating until after she was cannulated and the doctors started asking leading questions about “difficulty breathing” and “airway closing”.

    the patient wanted to go to “a proper hospital” (her words, not mine) to be on the safe side, so we drove her the 1km down the road and left her with the NHS staff. by the time we'd booked her in and cleared down, she'd already been discharged with a clean bill of health and a piriton “just in case”…

  2. that story rings a bell with me too, tom!a few weeks back, we got a cat “a” (chest pains & hypertension) call to the maternity section of our local hospital, (it isn't connected to the main hospital) to what we thought was going to be an expectant mother. turned out to be a member of staff……………..turned out to be JUST INDIGESTION………was told by the SISTER that we should “mention the fact that she's a member of staff so that they can fast track her through the dept”! i wouldn't have minded, but the lady in question had already finished work for the day, and so had no need to go back to work! some people really do try to take the piss!

  3. I've had a similar experience. At one of the local hospitals there is an out of hours doctors surgery which isn't connected to the main hospital but is about 200m from A & E. So we get a call to said doctors surgery from our station 15 minutes away. A crew then comes clear at the hospital so we think great we'll be stood down as they have to drive past the doctors surgery to leave the hospital (plus their base is on hospital grounds). But no we end up passing them just as we get to the hospital because they've been given a job (to a very ill patient) in the town we've just come from!In the time it took for us to get to the hospital they could have walked to A & E and back 3 times over.

  4. there is a private hospital near me that has the nhs hospital opposite on the other side of the road. When I was in there one day I asked what would happen if something was complicated they said they would transfer me across the road, I assume they would do this in an ambulance.-

    I hope everything has settled as I have missed your blogs

  5. I do PTS ambulance work. It's common to move patients by ambulance from their ward in the acute hospital to the community hospital on the same site, 100m away. Apparently the porters can't push them over the road.I'm sure there are good reasons for all this.

  6. Job protection no 1: 2: people are judged by the epaulette [chip on shoulder], now if you wear your nurses cap that you got at graduation then …'Tis why Generals wear so many badges, ribbons etc., so that ye can see he has been a good form filler..'tis why birds have colored feathers, ye are judged by thy coverings not by your abilities.Until people learn to hold their opinion on their first impressions and wait till action proves them right or wrong, we will always get caught out with misjudgments or with foot in mouth.I remember going for a job interview once, and the door was opened by a man in scrubs, only to find out later that he was the millionaire company owner, I was so glad I kept my thoughts to myself.Misquoting Confucius: you may look like you be an idiot , open thy mouth then prove it. There has to be an Aesop fable for this human weakness.nice blog

  7. RE: do as I am told, not to question why .They not be told to think, just follow orders, even over the cliff of stupidity. A question would end up in the file of not being a team player.Every organization has these blind spots.

  8. Ranks above even the frustrating comment made by the well-meaning family and friends of patients “He can't walk. You'll need a chair!”… makes me shudder just writing it. They even say we need stretchers when the patient is upstairs. Now that one makes me giggle – to myself, of course ;0)

  9. i hope that your busyness is productive & positive! oy, what a damn waste of resources (personnel, fossil fuel, time)—400 metre (rolls eyes).

  10. Thank you Tom. I am now gnashing teeth yet again.I hope you did explain that the ambulance service are no longer to be considered as mobile porters, but a profession in your own right.

    Perhaps you might suggest that they buy their own motor and call it a 'porta-cab.'

    Gnash, gnash… (swear word)..Gnash.

    Why do you do it?

  11. Because I'm no good at anything else?(The thing is, the old hospital that I used to work at was spread over several buildings, so we had our own little electric powered mini ambulance for moving patients if the weather was bad. If it was good we just pushed them on the trolley/wheelchair ourselves)

  12. “A pneumatic tube has been installed between the GSC and the main acute hospital site allowing for pathology and pharmacy specimens to be transported in just 2 minutes – removing the need for shuttle vehicle service between the two buildings.” Perhaps they could have built a bigger one for the patients……

  13. Think I can beat that. Had a bad asthma attack in one part of hospital and because it was across the road a 999 call was made to get me to A&E. They pushed me in a chair literally across the road. Yes it was also pedestrianised! Have to say was glad to see the paramedic though. He knew what to do!!!!!

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