Healthcare minus the true care

Weekends are the strangest animals and by far the biggest oddity of illness, when it comes to the day of the week. I know that my own personal, skewed view of them, is outside of the norm, I know this, from what I’ve gleaned from others. Most see them as important, a party time for families and friends, to be enjoyed as one, but without a doubt, it was family and their impact on my as a child, that set my view. My childhood was extremely regimented. There didn’t feel as though, there was a moment of my time, on any day of the week, when I wasn’t doing something, usually something I didn’t want to do. School, obviously; followed by either piano, lessons and/or practice; working in my grandfather’s shop, both before school and on Saturday; doing chores; art classes; visiting relatives, always boring; Sunday school, church and walking the family dog. I never had an afternoon, far less a day, even at the weekend, when life wasn’t totally regimented. Time with friends, actually, what friends, at least not until I was a teenager, and even then, none were allowed to come home. From 14 to 16, I had a brief window of freedom, when weekends were as close to what I thought they should be. Then they vanished again. It wasn’t enough for me to work all week, so I had my first stint as a nightclub DJ, which brought weekend fun and then all too soon, my first husband into my life. With him being a Royal Naval Officer, life was once again regimented and weekends, what on earth was one of them, they were all once again, just days, especially when we had two small children. When we split, I first worked in a bar. No weekends off there either, then I went back to years of working as a DJ, enough said, followed by working for British Telecom, who’s lines never close, so no weekends again. I was well into my 30’s when at last, I was an Operations Manager for a normal Monday to Friday company. What did I do, I brought in weekend working. My PRMS, actually at first brought weekend, proper weekend. I was forced into taking time off, no work and better still, without anyone telling me what to do, but note I said at first.

As I said, people around the world, look forward to weekends, in one way, I do, it means Adam is at home, but there is now something that hangs over them, that takes that shine away, especially if I’ve had a tough week. Like anyone with chronic illness, I have done my fair share of time in hospitals. There is one thing about being an inpatient that strikes you quite quickly, weekends are completely different from weekdays, but not in a good way. There is no comparisons, the cleaners who usually annoy you by keeping you awake using noisy machines, are gone; anyone who could be, has been sent home; not just are there fewer patients, there are fewer nurses; and the snap to attention visit from the gods, otherwise known as consultants, have gone too. There are no consultants, often no registrars either, just junior doctors, all rushed off their feet, as they try to cover whatever ward needs them right then. Well spotted, I’m not in the hospital right now, so why is this of any importance. It’s that nagging knowledge; there in the back of your mind; that statistic you heard from the evening news; about how your more likely to die, if you’re admitted to a hospital, at the weekend, than any other time. Every weekend holds those threats, the knowledge that if an ambulance needs to be called, and that should the Accident and Emergency staff decide you need admitting, you’re just going to lie on a ward, waiting for Monday, not fully treated, just watched for the gods to return.

The working practise of our hospital system never bothered me that much until recently. It was my COPD exacerbation back in June that first put it in my head, where it has been festering ever since. I am not sure how I would do it, but without a doubt, I would find a way of not leaving the house before Monday, even if I thought I was dying. In fact, if I thought I was dying, I would wait until I was sure, as my chances are higher of living, while in the care of the ambulance crew and the A&E staff, than on any ward. I never felt this way until recently; yes, I have always known that nothing happens in any hospital over the weekend; no surgery; no consultations; nothing major; but I did always believe that it was the place to be, if you are truly ill. A ghostland or not, I have always believed that you were always taken care off and there was always the right people called if needed, yet now, I have my doubts. I don’t know what the stats were in the past, but the ones bandied about now, sound horrific. Then when I heard a doctor saying that it was the parents faults for not coming in during the week, I really began to wonder. Apparently, people don’t want to take time off work, get too ill, and then die at the weekend in the hospital. Really? Personally, I would have thought most don’t want to waste their weekends, waiting for none existent Doctors.

I am usually a reasonably level headed person, yes, hospital staff need their time off with friends and family like everyone else but is this practice, of virtually closing down at weekends, really safe, or in line with the rest of our 24/7 world. As I laid out in the first paragraph, there are loads of reasons why weekends don’t exist, surely medicine should be one of them. I don’t understand, how anyone would enter the medical profession at any level, expecting to have Christmas day or New Years off, any more than I did, when I started working in a bar or as a DJ. When I was DJing, the second time around, I didn’t even have a day off at one point, for a whole 3 years and not a single holiday for 7, it goes with the job. You take the money where ever it comes from, whenever it’s offered. Neither of those roles is exactly life-saving, or vital, medicine is. I’m not saying our hospital staff should work that way, but I’m saying for the umpteenth time, that the system needs changing. Any system, that leaves people actually worried about becoming even more ill than normal, on certain days of the week, has to be wrong. It doesn’t matter if it is the hospital, or my normal pitfall, a GP surgery that has a half day mid week, isn’t working for their customers, the patients. The greatest problem with the NHS is the very thing that we all love about it, it’s free. If all hospitals and GP’s were commercial enterprises, rather than funded through government, they would be very different. It isn’t always about throwing out what is there and starting again, but in the case of those who are managing the NHS, I don’t think that would be a bad thing. If they brought in several of the CEO’s from big business to run and restructure it, along the line of good practise and good business, ultimately, it would become a safer and better place for both patients and importantly, the staff.

Any medical system, where ever it is in this world, if it leaves it’s patient fearing the days of the week because they can’t get the care they may need, is failing. From documentaries, social media and personal experience and feelings, that is exactly what is happening in the UK. I dread every weekend. I never used to look forward to them, but until now, I never dreaded them either. In June, I remember all too clearly, literally lying in my bed on Friday morning, trying to work out, if I should give in there and then and call an ambulance, or could I make it to Monday, that’s wrong. Right now, I am not that ill, but I still look at the weekends as a danger zone, somewhere to not enjoy myself, but to take extra care of myself, simply because I know, the care I might need, just isn’t there. That can’t be right.

Please read my blog from 2 years ago today – 08/11/2013 – Where to next

I swear this house is dropping 10 degrees daily. Despite giving in and putting on the heating a last weekend, I have been forced to tweak it up slightly each day in the hope of finding the point where it can…..