This is my first blog post written entirely on my iPhone and also my first post written mainly from the waiting room of a busy Accident & Emergency Department of an NHS hospital.
I’m here because my sore knee (have I mentioned that before?) has become very swollen and painful. We arrived at 9am and it’s 11.28 am as I type this. I’ve seen two nurse practitioners, had X-rays and bloods taken, and I’m now back waiting for results.
The waiting room in A&E is a fascinating place to spend time. As I look around now, there are people aged 7 to 80 plus. A number have very obvious injuries and quite dramatic appearances (facial injuries and bloodied clothing); others are in obvious pain and distress; and some (including me) seem fine until they get called into a treatment room and hobble off awkwardly.
There is a kind of resigned acceptance that we are grist to the mill of a system that operates at its own speed and according to rhythms and processes that are both mysterious and unknowable. For the most part, people are patient and understanding of the pressures that staff are working under. What is amazing is that at this time on a sunny Sunday there are upwards of 50 people in the waiting room, and probably at least that number again in various treatment rooms and diagnostic services around the Department.
This truly is the sharp end of the National Health Service. We are so incredibly lucky to have it. We may complain about waits; about the uncomfortable metal chairs; about being passed from practitioner to practitioner; but ultimately, we should be incredibly proud that we live in a country where world-class healthcare is available when we need it.
A bit of inconvenience is a fantastically small price to pay for that.