Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Non ER

Lists are extremely popular these days. We have lists of the best performing schools and hospitals, least/most expensive towns to buy a house in the UK, smallest/largest immigrant populations in the UK, best/worst rubbish collection. Frankly, the list of lists seems endless.

A list that has not yet been compiled, probably because it's a minority interest, is a list of The Best Public Places to Get a Large Wheelchair. Here is my list:

1) JFK Airport, NY, NY
2) London Heathrow Airport
3) London Stanstead Airport

Here is my list of The Worst Public Places to Get a Large Wheelchair:

A Certain World Famous Teaching Hospital In North West London

Let me digress. I have a medical condition called Lymphodoema. for me, this means that my knees are extremely swollen, and I can't walk very far. this also means that, together, my knees are bigger than my body. So, although my bottom fits comfortably into a standard wheel chair, my legs are over the wheels, and the chair cannot move. I am receiving excellent medical attention at a Certain World Famous Teaching Hospital In North West London, and I have to attend not only my Consultant's (all bow down and worship him. He is not only clever and charming, but also gorgeous) clinic, but also Physiotherapy. Now, Katy usually takes me to my Consultant's appointments, as they are only about once every six weeks, but I have to attend Physio rather more often. As Katy has a Very Important Job, and is often Very Busy Indeed, alternative arrangements have to be made.

The CWFTHinNWL has a service where ambulances, with attendants, more like coaches actually, who will collect raddled old cripples like myself from their homes, wheel them to the vehicle in a wheelchair, deposit them at the appropriate clinic, collect them after their appointments, and drop them home again afterwards. It was decided that that was the road which I would travel. Arrangements were made, and a note was placed on my file to tell transport that I needed the large wheelchair. We all knew it existed, because I was sitting in it in the CWFTHinNWL as the arrangements were being made. It was also suggested that I telephone Transport the day previous to the appointment to remind them about the chair. Which I did. I was assured that they knew everything, and that I was to be ready at 11.30am.

Do you remember the story of the Three Little Pigs, and how they got up earlier and earlier to beat the Big Bad Wolf? This was obviously the premis on which the Transport service works, for they arrived at 9.30am. Anyway, they agreed to wait while I got ready, a long and tedious process, but eventually, ready I was, and the smiling attendant came in with THE STANDARD WHEELCHAIR. Of course, this was no good to woman nor beast, so he phoned his Despatcher, and I phoned my Physiotherapist, who changed the appointment for another day, and I put my feet back up, and though a little put out, thought no more of it.

The next day the Physiotherapist telephoned me. Transport had told her that the CWFTHinNWL didn't have a large wheelchair. This was ridiculous for 2 reasons, firstly the hospital sees people my size and larger all the time, I have seen them there. I have also seen some of them in wheelchairs. Secondly, as mentioned earlier, I have, myself, sat, and been seen sitting, in the large wheelchair. More to-ing and fro-ing continued, until eventually Transport came up with this solution. It went like this, 'If we can find the large wheelchair, we will put it on an ambulance, but we can't guarantee that the ambulance that goes to the Chairwoman's house, will be the one with the large wheelchair on it'.

I have made alternative arrangements. My friend's husband comes here early in the morning,
he then switches to my car, drives me and my mobility scooter to the CWFTHinNWL, I then switch from car to scooter and zoom (!!) off to my appointment with a cheery wave, and at lunchtime he collects me and we reverse the procedure. It may be a little clumsy, but it works.


Clarice said...

It is my experience that nhs "Transport" is abominable. Firstly, no-one would use it if they didn't absolutely have to. But the people who administer it don't seem to be very sympathetic to this fact.

My mother, right, was in a serious car accident, and when she was released from hospital, still traumatised, she had to go to an urgent outpatient appointment the very next day, which happened to be her birthday. The "Transport" had been ordered, and we were told it would arrive between 9.30 and 11, for her appointment with v.busy consultant's outpatient clinic at 11.30.

In order to be ready for 9.30, this meant getting her up at 7.30 because her injuries meant it took rather a long time to get her washed and dressed. So. At 9.30, she's sitting in the wheelchair ready to go. No "Transport" occurs. 10 am comes and goes, as does 11 am.

Let us ignore the fact that it is her birthday and she is traumatised and distressed, and being made to wait for two hours in a wheelchair (which I understand gets uncomfortable on your bottom if you have to use it for long periods).

Eventually, I phone the "Transport" who claim that they couldn't find the address and they'd phoned us but couldn't get through. I can vouch that nobody phoned us. I ask them how we are to get to the outpatient appointment now. No answer is forthcoming.

So then I have to phone the outpatient clinic, who ask if there's any other way she can get to them. I point out that she has two fractured femurs (among other things) and no, public transport is not an option. Needless to say, the appointment had to be cancelled, and I was left with a crying demoralised birthday girl.

Also, prior to her discharge from hospital, the district nurse had ordered a wheelchair for her, right from relevant people, together with monkey pole, commode and so forth. But the wheelchair never showed up. When she first came home, she and my injured father had to share one wheelchair between them. When I phoned up the people about this, they told me in all seriousness that she would have to wait six months for a wheelchair, despite the fact that one had been on the delivery list for her two days ago. I said very politely to the man that I didn't think he quite understood why we needed a wheelchair, and I helpfully listed all her injuries for him, pointing out the need for outpatient appointments. The wheelchair turned up two days later. Amazing. I think the whole thing is rather a shambles. You should write to your MP.

Z said...

When my son needed a wheelchair as he had a broken leg, we borrowed one from the local St John's Ambulance. The same when my mother needed one after an operation. The hospital hadn't been able to help, although they did lend crutches. But they took no record of us having got them, although they complained that they, and other equipment, were often not brought back.

Chairwoman of the bored said...

Hi Clarice - Thank you very much for your input. Your poor mother must have been absolutely demented, I feel for her, and you too. I looked after my mother for the last 12 years of her life, she was 86 when she died, and I know how difficult caring for the elderly can be, and my mother though she had many 'conditions' was always ambulatory.

I think writing to my MP is a good idea, although I must confess that friend's husband, my car and mobility scooter are a good deal more pleasant than the hospital transport would have been, but there are plenty of people out there who wouldn't have the option, and we must all support each other.

The lack of efficiency however is equalled only by empathy expressed by those administering the 'service'.

Chairwoman of the bored said...

Hi Z - after my mother died, I phoned the local authority and asked them to come and get her special trolley, mattress, and a couple of other things. Eventually they sent someone who, quite properly, had a list of things I had to return to them. I suddenly realised that there was a walking frame, as she had only used for about 3 weeks, some years previously (she'd actually used it as a clothes dryer for her underwear), I'd forgotten about it. 'There's this as well' I said cheerily to the council's emissary 'Not on the list' was the surly reply 'Well, it does belong to Blankam Borough Council' I said 'Not on the list', 'What shall I do with it?' I queried 'Dunno....take it to the tip'. So I did.

Clarice said...

Hi Chair! Glad you liked my "comment" (bit of an understatement I know).

I just want to say, in case my mother reads this, that she is only 60, and was a few years younger than that at the time of their accident. Also, they've made pretty much a full recovery, so that is a happy ending. And the experience was very good for me in many ways, and possibly her as well.

I just think it's abominable that there are so many issues that require writing to one's MP about. Some of us have lives to conduct, and don't we employ the government to govern? Should they really need to be told what is self-evident to anyone with a brain-cell? It's not on. I think I might write to my MP it.

Clarice said...

I very rudely forgot to say that I'm sorry about your mother. If yours is as important to you as mine is to me, then those 12 years should not go unremarked.

I don't care for any elderly (I know that sounds bad, but it's not how I mean it), but my grandparents would come into that category - in our social culture it's pretty much a thankless task, but there's no accounting for the power of human love. Our government exploits that and it's wrong. You do what you have to do, and I want to show my respect for what you did and what you went through, because I have an inkling of it, and may be part of life, but it's not nothing.

Chairwoman of the bored said...

Hi Clarice - Firstly, your mum is the same age as I am, a mere whipper-snapper. All power to her!

Secondly, I too am not an 'elderly-lover' and cordially expect everyone to loathe me more with every passing year, even though I plan to be cool, fiesty, and eccentric.

Thirdly, I didn't actually have much time to mourn my mum at the time (although now, eight years later, I get huge waves of missing her), as the Chairman dropped dead unexpectedly six weeks after her, so things were pretty much a blur.

Please don't feel sorry for me, I've mentally moved on since then, and have done lots of things that I wouldn't have done otherwise. And I hope to be sufficiently mobile to do more things, if everything goes to plan, in a year or so.

PI said...

You must have saint-like patience. Thank goodness you have good friends and Katy and comparitive youth.
I am sorry for your losses. My mother died at 90 and I still bitterly regret it. I daren't contemplate the loss of a husband. You must be a very spunky person. I salute you.

Chairwoman of the bored said...

pi - It was acquire patience, or acquire insanity. Luckily I am an only child, which means that I have always been accustomed to amusing myself. The lack of activity is frustrating.

Thank you for calling me spunky. Actually, I think I was pretty crap at the time, but I muddled through.

Clarice said...

Hello Chair. Please don't worry that I feel sorry for you. Your sense of humour is far too jolly for that. I just feel supportive, that's all. Not too keen on the word "spunky" though...maybe it's my age, but the mind boggles.

Doctor Jest said...

Madam Chairwoman, I am saddened, though not that surprised by your tale. Hospital Transport in Borsetshire seems to be managed by the same inefficint crowd of goons you are stuck with down sarf. Could I suggest that you send a copy of your magnificent post, or a version thereof to the PALS officer at the CWFTHinNWL.

PALS stands for Patients Advocacy and Liaison Service. Every Trust has to have one, and they have the power to kick botty, so good people to have on your side, and way more effective at getting results that NHS "managers" per se.

Failing that how 'bout setting the Tetzer on them when he's "up".....

Chairwoman of the bored said...

Dr. J - Thanks for the good advice.

BTW, guess who my friend's husband actually is!

PI said...

I suppose 'spunky' is a period thing but you knew what I meant. You are going to tell us who your friend's husband is aren't you - or a clue even

Chairwoman of the bored said...

Pi - Sorry, nobody famous and exciting from our rock'n'roll past. The clue is already there!

PI said...

I'm guessing the tezter.
Just been catching up and I see it is a spider we have to thank for your renewed blogging - so they are not all bad.

Chairwoman of the bored said...

pi - Got it in one. If he's wearing the dog's lead, we don't go!

Askinstoo said...
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