Jonny Peppiatt, a regular contributor to the Daily Sceptic, has just returned home after a recent hospital stay. He shares his thoughts about what it’s like to be a non-Covid patient in a Covid-obsessed NHS.
“The back left of my throat is extremely painful. It hurts too much to talk, or eat, and feels like if it swells up any more then my throat will close. The pain’s spread through the left side of my jaw, my back teeth, and my left ear now too. I wouldn’t normally come to A&E for a “sore throat”, but I am worried about this swelling and struggling to breathe.”
That was the note I showed the receptionist at A&E this morning at about 3:40am. She took my details and I took a seat, prepared for the wait with some Netflix downloads, Spotify, and some work to do. Anything to distract me from the pain in my throat.
About half an hour later I was called to triage. First question: Have you had your Covid vaccine?” I answered their question honestly, and there was no follow up. Triage concluded that I should stick around, get some blood tests, and see a doctor. So that’s what I did.
The doctor took a look around my throat, asked if I’d had my Covid vaccine, confirmed the results of the bloods showed a very high infection, and told me she’d like to give me some medication and some antibiotics. She then told me to go back to the waiting room and wait to be called through to the main area of the hospital.
I was soon taken through to the minor treatments area off the back of A&E, where the first question I was asked was, “Where’s your mask?” I replied with the typical “I’m exempt” with a wave of the wrist. Only to get the reply, “This is a hospital though.” I pointed out that the hospital is not some sovereign territory exempt from the Government’s exemption rules. I was then left to be, maskless. But I was very quickly asked, once more, “Have you had your Covid vaccine?” Again, I answered and again there was no follow up. Come to think of it, what would they do with either answer?
I was then put on some strong intravenous antibiotics, although I had to face away from the doctor setting it up because of my masklessness. While I was facing the curtain though, she asked me, “Why aren’t you scared? You have a very high infection.” I’d like to think most NHS staff should have more faith in themselves than to go around asking patients why they aren’t scared while in hospital, but I gave her a nice simple reply: “Why should I be scared? I’ll get better.”
Now, being sick is deeply unpleasant, and I can understand a fear of getting sick, but if I’m already sick, and I know I won’t die, and I’m confident that I won’t get worse, then I don’t think I have anything to fear.
Anyway, this scene passed and soon there was an orderly coming my way. I took out my headphones to hear him telling me that I was required to take a Covid test. I asked him what would happen if I didn’t want to take a test. He asked me if I was refusing the test. I told him I might be. He told me that he was just doing his job and if I did want to refuse, then that was fine, I’d just need to say so so that he could go log it on the system. Fine then, I told him, I refuse.
A little while later, about 7:30am, the ENT specialist cane to take a look. He decided that a minor operation would be necessary, and sprayed my throat up with some vile numbing spray that had me gagging and spluttering. But, I thought, at least once this is done I can head home. Alas, I was mistaken. It turned out my “refusal” to take a Covid test wasn’t so fine. The doctor, it turned out, was being more obstinate than I’d been in his refusal to do the procedure until I’d had a test. We debated it briefly, pointing out that it was pretty clear I didn’t have Covid: he pointed out that I had a sore throat which was a Covid symptom; I pointed out that he’d literally just moments earlier diagnosed it as something else which had led him to deciding to do the minor op he’d just planned. It also became clear that all three of us in that discussion had had Covid early in 2021, and were all believers in the conspiracy theory of natural immunity. It was accepted that the tests weren’t wholly reliable, and it was appreciated that I didn’t want to swab my tonsils when they were the sorest part of my body at that point. Despite all of this agreement, it became clear that he wasn’t going to back down. He had the power after all, and he knew it. I needed the procedure. So I backed down.
The inevitable negative result came back about 8am, at which point I was admitted and transferred to a main ward, where I then waited for another hour and a half for a quick procedure that they were ready to do at 7:30am, but couldn’t because I hadn’t ticked the negative Covid test box. However, the wait at this point most likely wasn’t me being intentionally ignored for being Covid non-compliant (which I did wonder when a new doctor turned up later), nor was it me being forgotten because of poor admin and because I’d moved to a ward. This delay was happening over the shift changes, which was why I had a new doctor – well a new team of three doctors (I expect one or two were students) – when I did see a doctor again at 9:30am, and, just to keep you informed, this new doctor was equally interested in the results of my Covid test. She did her examination, came to roughly the same conclusion as the previous doctor, and then disappeared to get the minor op kit ready.
Five minutes later she and her two colleagues returned to numb up my throat for the second time and then stick sharp pointy things into my mouth. An unpleasant minor op, without a doubt, but, credit where it’s due, this was probably the first good experience I’d had with the NHS. The procedure was well explained, well managed, and well executed. And from this point, I received no more questions on masks or jabs, so that’s where I’ll end the tale.
I’ll also leave the bulk of the inferences to you; particularly because what can anyone reliably infer from one man’s relatively short trip to the hospital? But I will say this: there was never any judgment for not being jabbed; only one person at any point over 12 hours said anything about masks; and the only real frustration was the repeated obsession with having a test done.