An A-Z of the health service

Hospital can be quite boring. Yes, you get prodded a bit and get needles stuck into you every now and then and sometimes you can’t contain your excitement when you’re wheeled off for an x-ray or a scan.

Otherwise, it’s pretty dull.

So you do things like this. 

An A to Z of hospital life.

A: A&E or Accident and Emergency. For many people, if not most, that’s the way in. You dash from home and then join the throng in the waiting room before joining the throng on plastic chairs filled with people waiting to join the throng on trolleys who are waiting to join the throng already in nice warm, beds in nice warm, wards.

Of course A is also for Ambulance, and that’s how many people arrive at A&E. Once, I was in a room opposite the entrance to A&E and it was non-stop ambulances arriving, day and night. At one point, there were SIX ambulances outside that entrance. Six morning waiting to (see above)

A also stands for Attendants. They used to be called porters a word that doesn’t even begin to describe what these people do. Every five minutes, it seems, there is a call for an attendant to do some important job or other. It may be bringing a patient to a ward. It may be bringing some equipment to the resus(citation.)

A is for Addicts. And if you’re in hospital, you’ll see addicts. It’s sad. Because everywhere you look, you see painfully thin young people who have fallen into the traps laid for them by the Kinahans and others who deal in death. We don’t do enough for them. Maybe that’s because there are no votes in addicts, I don’t know. But we sure as hell need to do more. As we do for…

A is for Alcoholic. Yes, the men and women we used to call “winos” are still around and still suffering and still seeking help, but only last minute help. Like addicts, they don’t tend to be top of the list of priorities for politicians. But like addicts, they have to be top of the list for those who work in hospitals and who care for them – us – all.

A stands too for Angels. And I know it’s a cliché and I know many nurses are male but wasn’t Michael the Archangel male too. 

Nurses are angels because, like the guardian versions, they’re there at your shoulder ready to help when needed.

Sometimes that’s hard because the people who need help don’t know they need it and don’t actually want it and make it hard for those who want to give it to them.

A – is also for Abject, Abysmal and Appalling, words which describe both the conditions medical and ancilliary staff face every day AND the performance of this and other ministers for health over the years. We didn’t fix it when we were rich. We couldn’t fix it when we were poor. 

Now we just don’t bother,


Yes I know it doesn’t begin with A.

But it’s Appropriate.

(I’ll get to the other letters eventually….)

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