R had another wee trip in an ambulance yesterday*. R has an ear infection and this was the outcome. No blue lights; no oxygen; blessedly no visit to resus. We are home and R is okay.
It reminded me, though, that I had been planning for a while to write about some of our good experiences in healthcare (there have been many and I am conscious that I have tended to focus mainly on the less good). In the week that staff in the NHS have been under the spotlight due to the junior doctor’s strike, it seemed as good a time as any to start.
Two things reminded me yesterday. The first was one of the paramedics who attended yesterday. We have now seen this man on no less than three occasions (Glasgow is a big city, at least by UK standards. Seeing the same paramedic on more than occasion is really not that likely. R has been in way too many ambulances). He was great. They all are. Paramedics see a lot of people. It amazed me that he not only remembered R, but also remembered her diagnosis and her associated health issues. It might be an odd thing to say, but being well known to the ambulance service takes a whole lot of the stress out of what is a highly stressful situation (I mentioned this to a member of staff in the hospital yesterday. She commented on my finding the positive in a difficult situation. Honestly, that is the first time I have ever been accused of that. I’m a glass-half-empty kind of girl.)
The second thing was a remark made by the registrar that examined R in the accident and emergency department. We hadn’t met this doctor before. He’s probably the only doctor in A & E that we haven’t (full house now, I think). He told me that he wanted to speak to one of his neurology colleagues before making any decisions. I asked who was on-call. I said that we knew him and that he knew R well. The registrar then commented that it was funny but when it came to neurology, it didn’t matter to whom he spoke about any of his patients but the neurologist always knew the patient and knew in detail their history. He said that he thought that neurology must talk to each other.
So, this is what I wanted to say: our local neurology department is terrific. They do talk to each other. They collaborate and cooperate. They actually seem to like each other – they joke with each other during that curious anachronism that is the Grand Round (obviously, strict hierarchy is nevertheless maintained; the most junior staff member is always the scribe). There may be ego and rivalry between consultants. What do I know? But if there is, it is always left behind at the door to the ward. We can always get in touch with a neurologist when we need to, even outside office hours. We don’t have to go through their secretaries either. This isn’t special treatment for R. This is how it is for any of their complicated patients. This is how our neurology department works. (On R’s last admission, one of the neurologists on-call was new. I was a little anxious. Turns out that he had undertaken some of his training in the department, knew his colleagues well, and the dynamic is unchanged.)
I know how lucky we are. We have experienced other specialities where things are far more tense and far less collegial. But R’s care is led by neurology. And I just wanted you to know how grateful we are.
*This was the first ambulance since October. Things are definitely getting better for R.