Bungling doctors are not getting any opportunities to remove the wrong kidney this week or replace a knee when a hip was the problem or terminate any viable foetuses because there are too many acutely unwell people clogging up the wards. The Daily Mail is understandably outraged and are closely reporting from each NHS trust that declares an emergency situation and throws it’s hands up in despair.
Bighospital hasn’t declared a major emergency but we are cancelling elective admissions to make room for medically sick individuals.
The patients we have cancelled today are raging, they are complaining and ranting and demanding complaint forms, senior people to speak to, even compensation for a cat’s booking in a cattery. You could see it as “a fucking disgrace and you people couldn’t organise a piss up in a brewery”. Or you could see it as this; there are 1000 hospital beds in the Bighospitalburgh area and today all 1000 of them are required. This is unusual, but sadly there are 1000 members of the population that are seriously ill. Tomorrow or next week there will be a bed for the people who are currently well but need an operation, or a colonoscopy or an ERCP.
We have limited resources stretched to the limit every day. There is no slack, no spare beds, extra staff, half empty operating lists. If we ran it like that, which we should do really, we would be condemned for wasting money and resources. “Lazy nurses have 8 empty beds on the ward”. “Surgeon’s list is wastefully empty and they all go out for lunch together”.
I’m sorry that someone had their operation cancelled today or any day. But when the reason for the cancellation is that someone else needed the bed, you have to see that for the greater good of society you aren’t coming in today.
The sooner the government starts investing in and prioritising emergency care over 16 weeks waits to have your inguinal hernia repaired etc the better. Sick, acutely unwell people should come first, then cancer patients, then people in pain or disability and then all the rest.
It is all wrong to measure the quality of NHS care by how long you wait to have your gallbladder removed when it is giving you mild discomfort once a week rather than how we treat you when it becomes obstructed, infected, perforates and almost kills you.
Sorry to everyone we cancelled today, but please don’t complain to and about us, this is a government policy problem. I love operating and if I could have found you a bed I would have.
I can see from the patient’s point of view how upsetting it is, for their families and friends. It is hugely distressing to be cancelled and I can put myself in their shoes and empathise with them wholeheartedly.
What can we do though? If you want a system that is at capacity constantly sometimes that capacity will be breached….and it isn’t even all that cold yet, there’s weeks of trouble ahead.