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Thursday, April 07, 2005

Get your own X-ray machine

As a result of my fall yesterday Bin and I experienced the NHS at its usual streamlined non-efficiency in the Casualty dept at Swindon’s finest, The Great Western Hospital, which seems to be as reliable as its namesake’s train service.
On arrival at casualty AKA Minor injuries unit at 11.30 am (after working out that the entrance doors with the large notice applied either side stating’ Automatic Doors’ were actually not) We were pleased to note that there were only about 8 people waiting for treatment. Despite the notice on the wall next to reception telling patients that the time to see a doctor would be between 2 and 4 hours we felt quite confident that it would be sooner than that.
After One hour a nurse came out and changed the notice to read waiting time to 1-2 hours. However none of the eight people who had been there before us had moved but a considerable number had joined us, mostly mothers with toddlers. We were all assed by a nurse as to the urgency of our needs, I explained that I had probably fractures the Radius or Ulna and would need an x-ray, he agreed but told me I should wait –it wont be long he added. Finally, one at a time, slowly people were called through. Most of the children were seen first, although they didn’t appear to have any physical injuries and seemed quite happy to play in the activity pen in the corner, unlike the poor chap with half his thumb hanging off and had been there before me.
It appeared that I was low priority and after 2 hours everyone is watching each other wondering if their ailment is worse than their own. As the 8 in front of me dwindles down to 2 we are all watching the entrance and as new arrivals come in we asses their injuries too. The man before me is called, it’s now been 3 hours, and I work out that I’m next, my attention is focused on the entrance and I’m praying that a child with half a limb missing doesn’t appear. The man before me reappears 20 minutes later, looking no different from when he went in, and I brace myself for the call, nothing, 10 minutes pass by and I nervously scan the room and entrance when a mother arrives carrying a screaming child. Shit! I thought (my good nature towards humanity having dissolved some hours ago) but the mother and child have to negotiate the receptionist before they can be assessed and it was whilst the form filling was in progress my name was called. We were ushered into a cubicle where a nurse asked what she could do for me. I explained what had happened and suggested that I had probably a small fracture of the radius bone. She examined me and said I would need an x-ray as I may have damaged the radius bone – err, right I said.
I won’t bore you with the rest of the details, needless to say the diagnosis was correct, the nurse put my arm in a sling and told me to lightly exercise it as much as I could bear and now I could go home. Total time 4 hours 35 minutes.
Er I could have done that without the wait, all I needed was my own X-ray machine at home to confirm what I already knew. It was considered a quiet time in casualty, I would hate to go there when they’re busy!


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