The highlights of my visit (keeping a relative company) to a socialized healthcare hospital tonight.
The way a young woman was silently screaming in pain and all the hospital staff pretended not to notice. She’d fractured her arm badly and spent several hours without anyone doing anything to help.
I’ve seen this sort of thing before, the last time was a gay man who was passing out after being bashed on the head and no one tried to keep him awake. I hope he didn’t go into a coma. Another time – at a different hospital – a woman with her foot twisted 90 degrees fell off a trolley and writhed on the ground screaming for about 10 minutes while medical staff stepped over her to get to a break room for their cups of tea, until a doctor pointed and barked an order “sort that out!” But not tonight.
The complete lack of communication from doctor to nurse. The latter didn’t know anything about what she was bandaging or what it was for. The doctor, of course, couldn’t do a bandage. He also couldn’t give a copy of the X-ray to the patient, or email it (X-rays in socialized medicine belong to the state). There was a competent administrator who seemed to understand what was going on, which was a novelty, but he had zero authority.
The problem of continuity in care is not exclusively a problem of socialized medicine, but is worse: the client, whatever the mission statement may claim, is not the patient, but the owner of the X-rays.
The “Urgent Care Centre” was a hive of inactivity. It was new and looked clean. It was empty. I’ve spent a quarter of an hour trying to remember the last time I was in a place that exuded less urgency and care than this place. I failed. I was at a crematorium recently and that was like the pit lane of a Formula One Grand Prix racing track by comparison.
There was a two hour wait for a “bed” to put the bandage on, because there wasn’t a footrest in the hospital. In the end a supposedly-qualified nurse tried to put a bandage which was too small, and wanted to tape the edges on the fracture. She and her trainee colleague had to be told by the patient how to bandage a fractured toe. They couldn’t figure out that putting the foot on a chair would made bandaging the toe easier.
I counted seven doctors sitting around doing nothing. Actually not nothing: they were taking up chairs that could have been used as footrests.
A visit that would have taken one hour in a competently managed facility took three hours, most of it spent waiting for an unnecessary bed. Apart from the X-ray, which required equipment, nothing that happened would have required anyone more competent than a cub scout who has his first aid badge.
A visit to the nearby private hospital’s Accident and Emergency centre would have cost something like £200 (I looked it up here). I wonder how much in taxes the socialized version costs?