"From bicycle to hospital bed and beyond"
About: Heartlands Hospital / Trauma and orthopaedics Heartlands Hospital Trauma and orthopaedics B9 5SS West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust Brierley Hill DY5 1LX
Posted by Krazyken (as ),
I was knocked from my bicycle by a car last week, picked up by paramedics and admitted to Heartlands Hospital East Birmingham with a broken forearm. I was in the hospital for approx 3.5 days and these are my observations:
Ambulance turned up promptly within 5 mins and drove me to the hospital. I would have preferred a hospital nearer home (Great Barr) but it was closer to the RTA. Paramedics quite efficient.
Seen almost immediately by nurse who assessed my injuries and sent me to X-ray. 5-10 minute wait - no problem. Returned to A+E, short wait to see doctor, viewed X-rays, identified 'radius fracture' and possible wrist dislocation.
Informed me what would need to be done but told me that there was a waiting list (many life threatening broken hips in queue) it would be best to stay in the hospital in a bed or the wait would be even longer.
Then the wait began. I sat in A+E on a trolley for approx 5 hours (a breach) waiting for a bed. A 'backslab' plaster support had been put on my arm and I was bought a drink and sandwiches but nevertheless it was a long wait. I was led to believe that once they found a bed I would be on the list for an operation the next day. When I finally walked onto the ward in the evening, I was given a bed, put on 'nil by mouth' and told I was on the list for the following day's ops.
The consultant came around the ward and told me that I would NOT be having the operation today because he had many other higher priority patients who took precedence. When I informed him that I was booked on a holiday on the Sunday, he said I would need to cancel it because I probably would not get operated on until after the weekend.
I tried using the internet connection by my bed to do some urgent internet banking but it was useless (as the help line confirmed) because most useful sites were blocked. I had my 'credit' transferred to the phone service. I contacted work who said told me that I was eligible for Bupa treatment. I contacted Bupa customer services and was told to inform the ward nurse that I wanted Bupa treatment. The Bupa careline spent the afternoon chasing a consultant at the hospital to do the operation.
I woke up to find I was now once again 'Nil by mouth' and on the list for operation that day.
I went down to theatre at 3pm, had the operation and was back on the ward at 5pm. I ate the meal eagerly even though the food was very bland and un-appetising.
The consultant came around early and told me I could go home today but was concerned that I had not had post-op antibiotics which I should have had. Once I had had the antibiotics I could go.
Lunch came around and I was still there. Apparently, they needed a doctor to administer the antibiotic and they had been unable to find one all day. Meanwhile, my bed was sitting there un-used. Eventually I decided to force the issue, got dressed, packed up all my belongings and hassled the nurse. Voila! a doctor was found, the antibiotic administered, and I left for home at about 4pm.
My experience taught me:
1) On the whole, the staff seem experienced and thorough at their jobs but there are not enough of them to deal with the bureaucracy and paperwork which they have to deal with.
2) If a patient doesn't make a fuss then he gets forgotten. Hassle the staff and eventually you get progress - how inefficient.
3) If you mention BUPA, you get your operation quicker by the same consultant. Is this fair? I don't think so.
4) There aren't enough surgeons doing NHS operations.
5) The bed shortage is a result of inefficiencies in the system. Why should a bed be left empty for hours because a doctor can't be found to discharge a patient?