Friday, 20 November 2009


Rush hour, way home, on the train. Phone rings. Don't recognise the number so I don't answer it. Message from someone saying Bails had an accident. Agreed to meet at the hospital. North Middlesex. Arrived at the A&E department. Bails had not come in yet. Sitting waiting - sign said 3 hours. Man with a painful stomach is hunched over, his head on his hands on the back of the chair. His wife is sitting silently next to him. His son (who I suspect has the wheels) is chatting to a different patient and his girlfriend. I presume they are friends. The waiting is excruitiating. The son keeps sneaking into the restricted area and coming back with reports. Two women sit chatting loudly, laughing. Can't tell which one is the potential patient. Lots of people are using their mobile phones, even though there are signs all over the place forbidding it. Eventually I am too restless to stay sitting down anymore and stand in the queue again to ask whether Bails has been booked in yet. At first they say not but subsequently it turns out she is here.

8.00pm. Inside the restricted area there are curtained off cubicles and a central station. Its not like ER. Not quite like Casualty either. There is no sense of urgency. Lots of student doctors in strange smart outfits. Every once and a while someone gets up to see one of the patients in their curtained area. It seems that the doctors wear stethescopes. Nursing staff don't.

Bails has hurt her back in a gym accident. Some kind of weight lifting accident. She's lying still on the gurney. Stretchered in.

10.45pm. No doctor has come to make an assessment of Bails' case as yet. I ask the nurse at the station if there is a queue and if so where are we on it. She is irritated by me and looks at me accusingly. She grudgingly looks up the list of patients. 2 ahead of us. Other people who were waiting with me outside come and go. One of the female doctors looks like she has been up for 24 hours straight. Huge bags under her eyes. Grouchy demeanor.

12.15am. I decide to ask again where we are in the queue. Next it turns out. Took an hour and a half to see 2 patients. One of the other nurses asks whether anyone has been to see Bails yet. No I say, with some irritation showing. Its now late, I haven't had any supper. Finally at 12.30 the doctor comes and asks lots of quetsions. Bails is sent for an x-ray. X-ray comes back and 3 doctors stand around looking it it. One noticies a fracture. Everyone shows a degree more urgency. This is a serious injury. Shouldn't have been left for 4 hours on the trolley. Finally a doctor is assigned, Bails is fully assessed and admitted to the trauma ward. Its 2am.

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