Our health service doesn’t need the pressure it endures from those who abuse it

The ambulance service. Some of the abuse is mind-boggling

I hope, when this is all over, there is some recognition if not reward for the people who work in our health services.

I have had personal experience of their extraordinary work for the past twenty years. They are why I’m alive.

I don’t envy the work they have to do which is often unpleasant, sometimes dangerous, always difficult.

I put up a Tweet earlier this week commenting on the fact that, since the Coronavirus pandemic struck, numbers attending A&E departments have plummeted.

Astonishingly, more than 1,000 people went to the trouble of telling me they agreed with my assertion that, in normal times, many of those who present at A&E do not need to be there.

I have seen it for myself. People sit there with a cut finger, a slightly sprained wrist, a bloody nose.

You see young lads who, after a night on the beer, have ended up with black eyes or broken noses after a brawl of some kind.

You see addicts who certainly need treatment, but specialist treatment currently not available on the scale needed..

In short, our A&E departments are abused. They are, in normal times, packed with people who don’t need hospital treatment. Some just need a bandage. Some need something as simple as paper stitches available in a pharmacy.

But it seems A&E is the first port of call.

On one of my regular but necessary visits, I got chatting with a few paramedics who had arrived with a patient in their ambulance.

They agreed that too many people who don’t need to be there, use A&E departments, causing delays for all.

“It’s the same with ambulances ,” one of them said.

He looked as his partner for approval to tell me some stories…

“We have people we call ‘frequent fliers’” he said. These were people who regularly called the ambulance service.

“What they tell the operator on the emergency line bears no resemblance to the reality,” he said.

I asked for examples. “Your worst three,” I suggested.

They looked at each other again.

“OK. Third, is the guy who when he was lying down told us the real reason he called 999. He couldn’t sleep.

“Second, the guy who once he was safely in the ambulance, told us he called because he watched a scary movie and didn’t want to be on his own.

“But I think the winner has to be the young mother who called 999 about her sick child. When we got there at two in the morning, she answered the door with a baby in her arms. We asked her what was wrong.

“She told us that when she tried to carry the child upstairs to its bed earlier that evening, it hurt her arm. ‘Would youse carry her up for me?”

Our health services are creaking under the pressure, more than ever with the Coronavirus.

But even without it, the pressure is intense.

Someone somewhere needs to find a way to weed out and/or punish those who abuse it.

Because they are causing suffering for others.

And may even be killing them.

1 thought on “Our health service doesn’t need the pressure it endures from those who abuse it

  1. gerryfloyd

    Eons ago working for BGE emergency response. During the last big snow. Call at 8pm no gas, heating not working. Drive to Navan, icy road, me a slipping and a sliding, whippers helicoptering. Arrive after nearly an hour. Knock on door, no answer, phone customer, will be up in 1/2 an hour. fIGURE THEY WERE COLD AND WENT TO A FRIENDS HOUSE. hE ARRIVES. Into house, no furniture, nothing. There was no one living in the house. Does he care that I had to risk life and limb to get to the house, Not a bit. No Gas because he had no credit in pay meter. Then he wanted me to drive him to the shop as he did not want to drive in the snow. Request refused.
    Meanwhile a call comes in for Kingscourt, no Gas. Second responder asks can she wait until next day due to weather and if could take 2 hrs to get there. She agreed then phoned in a smell of gas. No Choice but go. He gets there circa 11 pm. She is in bed, says to call back next day. He tells her he has to test for leak or turn off gas. NO TRACE OF GAS LEAK, Her boiler needed resetting as she had let her credit run out.
    Sat. night 2.00am. Smell of gas, Drive to Navan 1/2 hour. Knock on door. Woman answers, smoking, drunk. man on sofa very drunk, smoking. Test ok. When, where did you smell gas. Points to stuffed drain and says last week.
    Massive incident in Navan, Paul Murphy was a reporter at the scene. Evacuation of houses required. Woman asks can she have a bath first, another wanted to make tea and toast.


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