Category Archives: News


Looks like it might be fairly minor – current theory is that a bomb has failed to go off on a tube. So far it's not being declared as a major incident.
At the moment we are all on station sitting watching the news.

Here is hoping that no-one is hurt.

I suspect I can direct you to your normal news-sites, as I'm not going to have any great insights from here on in.

Putting A Halt On A Plan

This is interesting,

The Scottish Ambulance Service has been given a month to bring forward plans to end the single-staffing of its emergency ambulances.

“I have made it clear to the Scottish Ambulance Service that it must take action to eliminate rostered single-manning,” Ms Sturgeon told MSPs, making it clear the use of rapid response vehicles, designed to be manned by a single-paramedic, was also being looked at.

In London there is an increasing move to have solo responder RRVs going to calls (it helps with the eight minute target), in fact the move is to reduce the number of double manned ambulances and instead have many more solo cars.

In London a lot of the RRVs are manned staffed by ambulance technicians rather than paramedics, and ambulance techs don't have the same drugs available as paramedics.

When I was working on the RRV if I arrived at someone who was having a seizure there I couldn't give the drugs that a paramedic would use to stop the fit.

This plan, the 'front end' model, where a RRV is first sent to a job to decide if a double-crewed ambulance should be sent is due to be rolled out in London in the near future. This story would mean that at least one person in government is unhappy with this plan. Along with a lot of on-the-floor ambulance staff.

So I wonder if the Health secretary will be looking at other ambulance trusts?

Counting Drunks

From TheyWorkForYou.

Sandra Gidley (Romsey, Liberal Democrat)

“To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many (a) male and (b) female teenagers were admitted to accident and emergency departments on grounds related to drunkenness in each month of (i) 2007 and (ii) the last five years, broken down by NHS trust; and what treatments they required, broken down by category.”

Dawn Primarolo (Minister of State (Public Health), Department of Health)

“We do not collect data relating to alcohol-related attendances at accident and emergency departments.” [Emphasis mine]

Tables have been placed in the Library which supply data for teenagers admitted to hospital [Emphasis mine] via accident and emergency with a primary diagnosis of T51 toxic effect of alcohol (i.e. more severe than general drunkenness and loss of inhibitions) for the last five years, broken down by gender and health care provider. The information provided in the tables does not include instances of the toxic effects of alcohol as secondary diagnosis.”

From the BBC

The introduction of 24-hour drinking laws may have trebled alcohol-related admissions to A&E departments in inner city areas at night, a study claims.

Researchers at London's St Thomas' Hospital compared overnight visits before and after the 2005 law change.

There were 80 alcohol-related visits in March 2005. This hit 250 in 2006, the Emergency Medicine Journal said. “

We 'code out' all our calls. There are two or three numbers to write down that represent what has happened to our patient. The first number is the 'type of injury' code. So (from memory) – Code 01 is 'Illness known', 02 is 'illness unknown', 03 is 'fall', 14 is 'assault' and so on.

Then comes the injury code. 01 is 'abdominal pain', 75 is 'minor head injury', 69 is 'vomiting', 23 is 'epileptic seizure'.

'62' is alcohol related.

The small problem is that where someone has two types of injury, for example they had a seizure due to alcoholism and cracked their head open, there are only two boxes to write numbers. For the fitting head injury mentioned that would be as 57/75 ('fitting – other cause', 'head injury – minor'). There would be no place to write down the '62' – alcohol related.

Couple that with the problem that the boxes are very small and easily forgotten and are therefore are occasionally not filled in and you have an obvious lack of data on how alcohol affects A&E attendance.

There are some vague figures mentioned in parliament. But these are only for people admitted to hospital – not for that much more common breed of people who are treated and discharged or are allowed to sober up and make their own way home. Or for those that attend, are violent and are thrown out.

So the St Thomas' Hospital study is incredibly important, and should be going on nationwide. During nightshifts alcohol probably accounts for 40-60% of my work, half that during dayshifts. Yet it would seem that no-one is recording or studying the numbers and types of people using the NHS for this reason.

Again from the BBC

“Both the Department of Health and the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, which was behind the legislation [to increase licensing hours], were dismissive of the findings, noting that the study only related to one hospital in one particular month.”

So why isn't there a more widespread counting of the number of alcohol related attendance? Something done all year in all hospitals, something involving ambulance service trusts. Just a simple tickbox asking if we considered alcohol the cause of the injury or illness.

If it were recorded and studied, might it not make a difference in how we provision care, fund hospitals, amend licensing laws and tax alcohol?

Or is that why it's not done?

More Ways To Injure Yourself

It looks like a cheaper version of the Segway will be making its way to the UK in the next couple of months.What this means is that there will just be more ways for people to injure themselves – even if it is allowed on the pavement, the streets around here require four-wheel off-road capability. I have visions of people falling off at 10mph wearing no safety equipment.
…Pardon me while I have a little giggle…


After a long stretch of work (including the sheer and bloody horror that is getting in to work at 6am), I finally have a few days off. I have a feeling of utter joy at the huge stack of laundry that stares at me whenever I enter my bedroom. Maybe if you all buy my second book1

I also find myself laughing at the ineptitude of the terrorists of today. Burning a car is a local pastime for the children around my area, and they aren't daft enough to set themselves on fire. As for the London car bombs – I could make a better bomb. It seems that if they are really al-Qeada, then that bunch of stone-age wannabes are really scraping the bottom of the barrel.2

I'm not scared of terrorism, no-one I work with is scared of terrorism3. We recognise that the chance of dying in a terrorist attack is much, much smaller than the numerous other causes of death and injury that we face everyday.4 What makes us more nervous is considering what the British government might do in response to these pitiful attacks.

The other thing that has been in the news is another cluster of stabbings in London. It was only a few nights ago that I found someone in what I like to call a 'pre-stabbed' state.

Seventeen years old, he'd come home from 'hanging around' in another part of town. While standing around on a street corner some men in a car had pulled up, grabbed him and beaten him up. No reason for this attack was given. He had a few minor injuries – a head wound that could be glued together, some grazing to his arms that could do with a clean up and a nose that was swollen.

The police arrived at the house moments after we got there, as he wasn't seriously injured I told the police that they could get their interview done before we took the boy to hospital.

Of course, it wouldn't be as simple as that – he started off by claiming that he didn't know where he had been 'hanging out'. He also didn't know who he had been with, what type of car the assailants had been driving, what they had looked like or even his friend's home address or phone number. He wasn't going to tell the police anything.

All of this was given in a terrible Jafaken accent (the accent du jour around these parts, always hilarious to us emergency workers).

My local knowledge let us know where the assault took place, it's just down the road from where I live, and I know the 'kids' do so love to stand on that particular corner eating their chips and play chicken with the traffic.

But that was all he would say, the police understandably decided not to waste any more time with him. So our patient and his mum walked onto the back of the ambulance and we headed off to hospital. While in the back his mum told me how he was always getting beaten up, that she had tried to stop him going out and meeting up with the wrong sort of people. She'd enrolled him in college and recognised that he was walking a thin line. He'd already been convicted of a minor crime and she was obviously concerned that he may end up in more serious trouble.

So I gave him my lecture about the people who we pick up having been stabbed – how they are mostly people like him. That they hang around in gangs, that they indulge in minor crime and that they tend not to listen to their mums. I told him how you lose all your macho attitude when you have half a dozen stab-wounds in you. It's an attempt, no matter how pointless, to try and scare them into turning their backs on that kind of life.

1 Yes, there should be a sequel; this blogpost also took an hour longer to write than it should because I was trying to find a way to write superscript elements in Ecto without having to handcode them in the HTML view. Then I realised that the Rich text view won't show it anyway. Now I'm having a nice cup of tea.

2 I'm of the strong belief that we should mock terrorists, we shouldn't call people 'suicide bombers', instead they should be referred to as 'Brainwashed morons who blow themselves up because of superstitious fairy tales from the middle ages'. The pleasure of being an atheist…

3 Most of us can remember living under the IRA for a start. I long for the days of 'Special Black' rather than 'Critical'.

4 Look at my driving for instance…