I look at the screen and see the words, “Patient in labour”, it's 4 a.m. in the morning and I huff at the thought of going out to another 'Maternataxi'.
My crewmate groans and tells me that while the patient lives in our patch the maternity department that she is going to is way outside our area to a hospital that we don't like much.
'She doesn't speak English', says my crewmate, 'oh, and she's fifteen'.
'No wonder her maternity department is in Essex', I joke.
We get there and her parents meet us at the door, they are babbling away in their native tongue and they basically push us, and the patient, into the ambulance. Her mother comes with her – all the time shouting the only word in English that they seem to know – “Quick!”
'Quick! Quick! Quick!' they shout at us, they aren't interested in us doing anything, you know, medical, so I grit my teeth and we drive them to the hospital.
I'm fuming. I'm sure that it doesn't help that this is the last of our very busy nightshifts, that it's silly o'clock in the morning, that our professionalism is being ignored for our ability to drive a free taxi and that we are being forced to go out of our area when all we really want to do is local jobs so that we can get off shift on time.
At some point my crewmate leans through the dividing door of the ambulance and lets me know that this is the third baby our patient is having and that the father of the baby is her cousin.
Again I mutter something about Essex*
We drop her off at the hospital, I neither expect or receive a 'thank you'. The midwives at this hospital were lovely and we returned to the ambulance to try and race back to our own area.
It was only after I'd had seven hours sleep at the end of my shift that I start to wonder about this call.
I wonder about our patient getting pregnant for the first time when she is twelve. I wonder about her cousin, I wonder how old he is, and how old he was when he first started what can only be described as child abuse. I wonder about the isolation that our patient would feel in being unable to speak the native language of the country in which she lives. I wonder about why the social services allow this child to remain in a situation where she has seemingly become a baby factory.
The pregnancy is all above board, the maternity notes are genuine, the history is good and action has probably been taken. But somehow the father of the child isn't in prison, isn't on the sex offenders register. Is it because he is a child as well?
I think about the fate of our patient, this child. I've heard things about Romanian gypsy families, that they marry their child while they are still children. Some private ceremony, unsanctioned by the state or by law, yet occurs without much fuss because to do otherwise might lead to accusations of racism**.
So now I'm angry again – I'm angry that a fifteen year old girl has been raped at least three times presumably with her family's consent. I'm angry because it would seem that nothing is being done about it and I'm angry that this isn't an isolated incident.
I think that this delayed anger is the more positive sort.
*I can make these jokes, I spent my childhood growing up in Essex. The fecundity of the women of Essex is the reason why I was a virgin until I left the area.
**Yes, I know it's the Daily Hate Mail, but it seems like reasonably factual reporting.