The London Ambulance service doesn't just deal with emergency calls to people's houses, we also do hospital transfers, patients who go from hospital to hospital because the original hospital hasn't the expertise to deal with that person's medical problems. An example of this would be the transfer I recently did from Newham to the Royal London because Newham's CT scanner is broken, and the patient needed an emergency scan.
One of the regular places that we find ourselves transferring people to is St Joseph's Hospice, or as we call it “Holy Joe's”. Sometimes we will be picking up patients from one of the nearby hospitals, sometimes from the patients own home. It's one of those jobs most of us don't mind doing. The patients are, by definition of needing hospice treatment, actually sick – and we aren't so hard hearted that we would begrudge an ambulance to someone who is ill. Then there is Holy Joe's itself…
Holy Joe's is a religious place, it used to be run by nuns, but now they are a bit few and far between. To be honest I saw my first nun there yesterday, and she was picking her nose… But, you walk into the place, and it just seems nice, it is clean, the staff are all friendly, the patients all seem happy and there is a really good social atmosphere there. I don't know if it is because of it's ties to the religious orders (I hate all religions, but the best nursing homes always seem to have nuns running the place), but the hospice just seems to exude calm.
My crew-mate and I had just transfered a terminally ill patient into Holy Joe's and were having a cup of tea in their tea bar (hot drinks are free to the LAS, another reason to love Holy Joe's), sitting in this clean comfortable area, we were watching the patients chat with relatives, staff and other patients, giving the place a real friendly atmosphere quite unlike anywhere in the NHS. It is very rare to see a doctor sitting down with a patient, chatting about nothing in particular, and having a cup of tea together. We both agreed that this has got to be one of the better places to see out the end of your days, and that it is a real shame that there aren't more places like this.
It is a shame that in this increasingly 'technical/evidence based/audit/professional development/governmental targets' style of health service, we seem to have forgotten that sometimes we simply, and honestly, need to care.
Many thanks for all the condolences in comments and sent privately in respect of our colleague who died on Tuesday, they are all appreciated. His family has decided to have a Service funeral, which has pleased a lot of the staff here, because it lets them do 'something' to help out the family, even if only as part of a parade of remembrance.