Friday, 4 December 2009

See the terror in their eyes

Have you ever told a teacher that they get long summer holidays? It doesn't go down very well. Another bad idea is to suggest to a police officer that they use their siren when they are late for their dinner. This doesn't get a laugh. It doesn't even get a smile. It is a bit like telling an MP that they get good expenses or a city banker that they don't deserve their bonus. Much worse than any of this is to ask a nurse anything while they are giving out drugs. They need to concentrate and errors may be fatal. Even minor errors may lead to disciplinary action.

I have been visiting a friend in hospital and one of the first things that she said to me was that she wanted to go to the toilet and had been waiting for a considerable length of time. The ward was made up of many side wards and I had looked round them all. The only nurse that I could see was giving out drugs. I waited at the door and when she looked at me I apologised for interrupting her and asked if there was anyone I could ask for help. It was too late. You could see terror in her eyes. How dare I interrupt her? She told me that I would just have to look around. I looked everywhere on the ward. The only nurse that I then found had just sat down on a break and I apologised to her for asking if there was anyone to help.

There was a happy ending to this story but I will spare you the detail. Wouldn't it be nice if there were enough staff in hospitals? Wouldn't it be nice if staff took their breaks so that nurses weren't left on their own giving out drugs? Wouldn't it be nice if we could laugh about our work?

Change the world

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