Conversation With a Nurse

A reader has written in to describe her recent experience in an English hospital. NHS staff are prohibited from speaking to the press or posting on social media so we’ve omitted mention of the location in case the staff member in question could be identified.

I got damaged by a horse late yesterday afternoon and had to be driven to A&E. I was wearing my mask-exempt hidden disabilities lanyard (which I am genuinely entitled to) but the receptionists asked if I wouldn’t like to wear a mask anyway to protect myself in the hospital environment. There were three receptionists in close proximity, no distance between their chairs and the middle one, who was talking to me, only had hers over her mouth not her nose.

In the waiting area, I was the only non-masked person. They seemed to be quite busy. There was a prisoner there, handcuffed and chained to an officer, both bearded with token efforts at mask wearing but neither were challenged about their ill-fitting efforts.

When I got to triage, I had a most interesting conversation with the nurse. She said they still were not particularly busy and she was very concerned about the increases in certain types of cases. Domestic abuse was the example she gave, and subsequently when I was waiting for X-ray, an extremely distressed and beaten-up woman appeared, who was telling the paramedic how frightened she was that the “guy who did this might have decided to finish the job” if the emergency services had not been so quick.

The triage nurse went on to tell me that the first lockdown had been “lovely from a work point of view, nothing to do and lots of free food”. Apparently, if they were on shift and rang for a pizza, the companies just delivered to the hospital for free. She particularly mentioned Domino’s. The nurse said that this region had never been in any danger of being overwhelmed, and was now beginning to worry that there would be a backlash against ‘Protecting the NHS’ when they could clearly cope and the lockdowns continue to lose people their jobs, etc.

This hospital did appear to be letting companions in to wait with elderly patients, which I believe is better than many other places.

Stop Press: Fiona Hamilton has a piece in The Times describing how the court system is so overwhelmed that domestic abuse victims are being advised to take civil action rather than make criminal prosecutions, while court delays are growing so long that some complainants are attempting suicide.