Please Don’t

As I am a complete nerd, I have email alerts set up for various topics spoken about in government. Often I don't have the chance to read them but, being stuck alone on station last night, I had the time and the good luck to read on such discussion.

This was a discussion about encouraging people to 'self care' their minor ailments. There was no mention of ambulances, the discussion centred mostly on the role that Pharmacists, GPs and Practice Nurses have to play. After all the government has no idea what us ambulance people do – I'm sure they think we only go to car crashes, heart attacks and the sort of thing you see on 'Casualty'*.


Never mind, although I do have one comment to make on the discussion.

'It is worth listing the minor ailments that I mean. They are generally part of everyday life and include backaches, coughs and colds, headaches, toothache, indigestion, skin problems, allergies and some respiratory problems.'

Hold on! I've been to every single one of those minor complaints, normally as a 'Cat A', high speed response. Around 80% of calls to us via 999 are for these very things.

The discussion continues,

'In many cases people manage these minor ailments already through self-care using an over-the-counter, or OTC, product, but research conducted by the Proprietary Association of Great Britain indicates there is often a significant level of dependency on the doctor.'

By doctor they also mean 'Call 999 because they don't want to wait for a GP appointment, then moan when they reach A&E and have to wait for longer than five minutes'.

'But it's serious' they look up at me and whine when the nurse, quite rightly, puts the poor helpless little flower out in the waiting room while trying to deal with the people in majors who are genuinely sick.


Needless to say, reading this gave me a good laugh…

You can read the whole thing here.


*'Trauma' is being shown on British TV at the moment and the first episode was last night – I'm yet to watch it, but from the reaction of my American colleagues it should be entertainingly awful…

15 thoughts on “Please Don’t”

  1. They should put on an episode of Casualty with a selection of your typical jobs one of these days. No drama, just a bunch of whingers with colds they've had for 3 days. Never know, it might help. Only if they make those characters look complete and utterly stupid and time-wasting of course.

  2. Those who compile these reports know everything there is to know about hospitals and the ambulance services. They've never been near either, but one of their minnows read about it on Wikipedia and so managed to generate a report from that..

  3. I know it'll never fly, but it would be nice if there were a “taxi fee” for ambulances, maybe a fiver, charged by the hospital, that the doctors could waive if they felt like the call justified an ambulance.I'm assuming there's some handover paperwork that ambulance crews give to the hospital: this could have a checkbox “waive the fee” so the ambulance crews could waive it for lovely old ladies, and other legitimate causes.

    The idea isn't to collect any significant amount of money, after all. It's just to make people *think* they're going to pay, in order to cut down on those crap calls who would've taken a taxi or driven themselves, if it'd cost a fiver.

    But if this ever WERE implemented, I can imagine how it would be done:

    1) Not a checkbox, but an entire form, including name, address, and means testing for the patient, to be filled by the ambulance crew.

    2) An entire department devoted to debt collection, spending hundreds of pounds in man-hours for each fiver reclaimed.

    3) Headlines like “pensioner dies, with 4.95 counted out in front of her: too poor to call ambulance!”

    4) Targets set for money raised.

    5) Pressure to raise fees to US levels.

    … OK, maybe free is best.

    But still, it's a nice dream.

  4. I'm curious. How much work do you think LAS would have left if no-one called for an ambulance for these things? Would there be some significant risk of you being out of a job?

  5. If it's going to cost more to run than it creates in income, the government will consider it – after they have spend 100m on consultants to report on it's viability.

  6. And the sweet little old ladies won't call the ambulance for their chest pains because they only have two pounds of their pension left to last the week.

  7. Though in truth that'd be trivial to get around: just say “if you've over [some age]/are on a pension/are disabled, the ambulance is guaranteed free”.But still: my point was that it'd never be implemented in a reasonable, common sense, useful way, but it's still a nice idea to dream about.

  8. Trauma didn't last long. Which is unfortunate because “Mercy” is still on the air, and it's far less entertaining, unless you like watching dysfunctional people more than helicopter crashes. But not being “in the business,” I didn't expect Trauma to be realistic, just somewhat entertaining.

  9. I watched Sun, Sea and A&E yesterday (don't ask…) and the way in which these people were portrayed does nothing to dispell the idea that someone with a bit of backache after falling over is so desperately ill that they might never dance again!! I despair.

  10. And that is the reason behind the, slightly obtuse, title of this post – all that rubbish is easy work for me. Walk 'em on, take 'em to hospital, no risk of killing anyone.Nice and simple and I get paid the same I would if I saved someone's life.

  11. I know I'm late to the party…… but quite honestly it doesn't help that Casualty (et al.) have so many “patients” who have had a funny tummy for a few days, or a bit of a headache, and aren't immediately told to eff off to their GP.

    Proud to say I've only ever had an ambulance when the dude on his own (FRU?) was giving me gas and radioing them to hurry up.

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