Monday, August 2, 2010

A minor irritation

When we took son to the hospital last week, he had to go for an x-ray. This is always good for a laugh as his spine shape and heart totally obscure his left lung - where the problem always is, and the hospital can't get the plates in between him and his moulded wheelchair - the shape of his spine means lying on the bed is out.

This time was even better. The Medical Assessment Unit was heaving and grossly undermanned. But they had to call a porter (who wasn't familiar with driving his attendant controlled, powered wheelchair) and insisted on sending a nursing assistant escort as well (who hadn't been told why she was needed). So off we trundled in convoy, with me driving the wheelchair, wife managing the suction, porter in front feeling like a spare part and nursing assistant behind wondering why she was there. They were very nice people and it wasn't their fault - but we really did know where x-ray was.

Why they hadn't provided a siren and a couple of motorcycle outriders was not explained.


  1. Hi Ned.

    Apologies for not getting back to you sooner.

    I have read your suggested reading and I am appalled by it! There appears to be no provision (or understanding) of the needs of those with physical/learning difficulties within the NHS hospital setting.

    I work within mental health and realise that the NHS is ill-equipped to deal with those who have 'management problems.' Our usual response if contacted by a doctor and asked "How do you manage this patient?" is "Send them home!"

    I also realise - and I am not making excuses here(!) - that hospital wards are not over-run with a glut of nurses! The people we regard as nurses are probably - in the majority of cases - health care assistants. I am not denigrating health care assistants - but they do not have the training and in all probability - neither do the nurses. I can imagine that the 'real' nurses are immensely stressed!

    That aside - I do not think that this has any bearing on your sons case. What we don't understand - we fear! Sad - but true and people tend to back off. This must make you feel totally isolated.

    I can offer no solutions Ned. Society has to be informed of the (hidden) people in our midst. Will it happen? Not for a long time, I think.


    Good people with physical/learning disabilities are well hidden from society and it would appear that the NHS does not recognise their existence. I do not think that this is deliberate - but nevertheless it must be enormously frustrating!

  2. Afraid hospitals aren't good places for people with disabilities. They're geared up to cope with 'normal' people who are ill - insofar as they're funded and staffed however inadequately. Having said that, things like Mencaps 'Death by Indifference' has had an impact and there is an acknowledgment now that they need to do things differently for disabled people. The people are good and do their best in the main but without more of them, better training and the resources to do it, I'm afraid it's going to be a slow job. At least these days we wouldn't be simply attached to a drip, discharged without any training and told to go home and do our best - this really happened to us 20 years ago. I can't imagine it would now.