This week’s prompt from Sue’s #writephoto is this
‘Janet. We have to move these patients on. In 2 hours. You know the protocols.’
She watched Doctor Pattinson scurry away. She’d neither make eye contact nor write down her instruction. Of course not. Yesterday it was a ‘deriliction of her responsibilities’ not to triage the A&E arrivals in the Trust’s target time. Another occasion and Pattison told her she would personally ‘ruin’ the hospital’s hopes in the next funding round if she didn’t ‘build’ on their great ‘foundations’.
Janet’s mind slipped briefly from the chaos of her reality to the little tumbledown cottage, patiently waiting for her time, her care and attention. Soon she’d retire from the dystopian nightmare of the NHS and enjoy the fruits of her years of targets, and goals and restructures and over optimistic hopes. She looked at the form she had just completed and watched the patient, Grace Oldham, as the orderly rolled her chair towards the toilets. She was off the X ray next. Janet competed the box ‘in X-ray’ and added the time. She should wait until the patient was back and on her way but how long does a wee take? She’d be in X-ray in next to no time.
Ray Cools looked at his pager. ‘Call. Line 4.’ How long did the old dear need? He knocked on the door and called out. ‘Won’t be a jiffy love.’ He didn’t wait for a response.
The call, to say his pregnant wife had gone into labour early, stunned Ray. He barely hestitated before running to the triage station. Frank was waiting with a patient. ‘Frank, mate. Holly’s gone into labour..’
‘Can you get someone to collect a patient from the disabled loo? ‘ He waved across the reception area. ‘ Triage will tell you where next. X-ray I think.’
‘Sure. You get off. Love to…’ He smiled. First time. Always anxious.
The patient in the chair growled. ‘Can we go?’
Frank looked at the triage station. Busy. He only needed to get her to the pharmacy and then he could pick up Ray’s patient.
As Frank disappeared to the right, where shortly his patient would catch her hand on a door, necessitating an accident report and a complaint, Grace felt dizzy and sat back down on the toilet. As Frank began to complete the forms, he thought of the lady in the toilet. She’d be missed by now. X-ray would call and triage would see she wasn’t back from the loo. He pressed on with question 14 as Grace felt her arm become heavy and pins and needles began to bite into her bicep. The first stroke was mild but caused her to panic and slip to the floor. Someone would get her soon. She just needed to keep still and quiet.
12 hours later Irina Povolsja wheeled the bucket and mop over to the disabled toilet. She frowned. She’d come past three times in the last 30 minutes and still the toilet was locked. She knocked on the door. ‘Hallo?’ She knocked again. ‘Hallo? Ok?’
Was that a groan? Irina fetched her supervisor who called maintenance who called triage who rushed Grace into a bay where she was treated hurriedly for multiple strokes.
The inquiry found a number of failures, of practice and human error. But no one questioned the pressure imposed on Dr Pattison by the Trust’s targets nor by Pattison on Janet. There was no record of the conversations that led to a patient getting lost in a disabled toilet for over 12 hours.
And Grace Oldham? Sadly the ruination of treatment delayed meant she could not be restored. Trapped inside her derelict shell she could but dream of what might have been.