I've not been writing because I've been incredibly busy of late, working my normal LAS shifts (my last shift is on Friday, three more to go and, yes, I'm counting the hours), plus the paperwork for my new job (currently filling out the second Criminal Records Check form because I was sent an out of date one earlier), as well as all the normal stuff that keeps us busy, like laundry and shopping and making sure my Sky+ box doesn't get filled up with too many programmes.
Hopefully this will all soon change, giving me more time to put finger to keyboard.
I've been talking to a lot of people about my upcoming change in jobs to the local hospital – both ambulance and nursing staff, and the thing I've noticed is that sometimes people just don't get on.
For example – I explain to one of my ambulance friends that I was talking to Nurse Smith about my upcoming job change and that she was very happy for me. 'Ergh', says my ambulance colleague, 'Nurse Smith? I can't stand her…'
And I find that on both sides, nurses and ambulance staff that I consider good clinicians and good people looked on with some disdain.
I think I've worked it out.
It's because we don't know what each other does.
Many of the nurses that aren't liked by ambulance crews are those nurses that expect more. They forget that, for a great number of us, our training is 16 weeks in a classroom. We've never been taught 'reflective practice', or how to read a research paper, or learnt the meaning of the word 'holistic'.
These nurses get annoyed when an ambulance worker doesn't know about a certain obscure disease, or something happens that highlights something that was lacking in our initial training.
And if nurse gets annoyed, then you can be sure that the ambulance worker concerned will get annoyed as well.
On the flip-side, there are the nurses who think that we are little more than removal drivers – we pick people up, wrap them in a blanket, and take them to hospital. They can't see the reason why we bring to hospital some of the dross that we do (personal favourite call from last night – '33 year old male with cold'). These are the nurses who have asked me in the past 'can you do a blood pressure'.
To be fair, that is from a ward nurse, A&E nurses have a better idea of what we do, but can still have some strange ideas of what our work is really like. Some don't realise that we refer vulnerable children and adults to social services. They may not realise exactly how many patients we leave at home (endless panic attacks, diabetic hypoglycaemia and epileptics). They also may not know that if someone wants to go to hospital then we can't refuse them.
It's not particularly anyone's fault – certainly it works both ways, ambulance staff don't really understand the pressures that A&E nurses are under. I know that I have a privileged knowledge, coming from both worlds.
What is annoying is that the solution is very simple – nurses spending some observation shifts with ambulance staff, and ambulance staff spending some time in A&E, but it'l never happen because of those self-same pressures. Ours to hit eight minute arrival targets, and A&E to cope with understaffing and having too many patients to deal with.
And our free time is precious – spent sleeping rather than volunteering to go rattling around London in an ambulance, or being asked to do ECGs on endless patients in A&E.
Besides, it's not that important to deal with little episodes of misunderstanding brought about by not knowing each other's jobs.