An Insider's Guide to Surviving A & E
Helpful hints for victims of date-rape, car crashes, muggings, disease, drugs & hospital vending machines...
Want to cut down waiting times in A&E? More money, doctors, nurses, machines, blah blah - all that would help, but here are a dozen practical ways that you, the public, can help things run a little more smoothly ...
1. Please, please, please girls, when that 12th Smirnoff ice hits your system DO NOT tell your mates you’ve been spiked and get them to call you an ambulance. Instead, do us all a favour and have a look in the mirror in the bogs. Would YOU waste your last Rohypnol on someone who looks like you do right now? You’re with your boyfriend for fucks sake. You are PISSED, enjoy it or get over it.
2. Teenaged boys. I know it’s hard being you. I know everyone hates you. I’ve noticed in my years in A&E that it’s YOU and not old ladies who are getting mugged and beaten up every day. However, when you find yourself in casualty after a ruck, and you find out you have to wait for a doctor for longer than the duration of your current phone call, DO NOT walk 2 minutes down the road and call yourself an ambulance to bring you back. Remember I just saw your face, and I HAVE a concentration span - unlike you. No matter what your mode of arrival is you are all seen in priority order. You just got yourself to the back of the queue again. And you just wasted £400 on that ambulance ride (Yes, that’s how much it costs).
3. For the love of god STOP asking me how long you’ll have to wait. Your guess is as good as mine. 4 years down the line I still can’t see any patterns emerging. It’s impossible to know how long the patient in front of you is going to take with the doctor. Stop wasting my time, stop staring at the clock and read something.
Twins waiting in the emergency ward. Photo by the author
4. Learn to use a vending machine. So much of my time is spent giving lessons to fuckwits on how to get a can of coke out of a machine whose general design has been the same for about 50 years. When it says ‘Out of Service’ and you lose your money in it, it didn’t steal it - you donated it. And anyway, you said you’ve been throwing up all day, I doubt a can of Fanta and a Doubledecker is going to make you feel any better.
5. Stop worrying about other patients. When that guy who was sat next to you goes for treatment before you, don’t come to me saying that he didn’t look sicker than you. How do you know? If you’re a doctor go home and treat yourself. Stop being a busybody. That junkie sprawled out on the floor? He’s not dead, he does that every day. LEAVE HIM! That nutter outside the door having a freeeekout? She’s letting off steam, nutters do that, it’s her right. LEAVE HER!
6. Pregnancy tests. I’m SICK of this. Buy one. Or go and get one for free from your GP (get a GP for fucks sake people, he’ll never make you wait more than about 15 minutes or so) or nick one. Being up the duff is NOT a medical emergency. Ditto the morning after pill (you can now buy it from pharmacies), though by all means come in for it if the chemists are shut. I’d rather nip this shit in the bud now rather than endure all your pregnancy bullshit which brings me to….
7. Paranoid mothers/expectant mothers. You’re foetus hasn’t moved for 5 minutes? Maybe they’re having a break from kicking the shit out of your spleen. Enjoy it. Your five year old has a bruise? WOULD YOU LIKE ONE TO MATCH? I would have had to be nigh on decapitated for my mum to take me out of school and in to A&E. Your 14-year-old has a bit of a snotty nose and you leave work to bring him to me? Fucking sad…
8. Kids on ‘tag’. Ok so you hate your bail conditions. My brother had one of these tags once and I know how frustrating it can be having Group 4 straight down your house because you were home 2 minutes after your curfew. But don’t start pretending you’re sick so you can tell the tag management you’re in hospital when you actually booked in then fucked off joyriding. I’m seriously sick of this shit. You’re out of prison early; treat it like the bonus it is.
9. Patients’ family/ friends. For starters, why are there 10 of you? One guy is sick right? One or two of you to accompany him would suffice. But what gets me annoyed is when every one of those fuckers starts thinking ‘Hmmm, I’ve had a mild backache for a couple of weeks, now I’m here I may as well book in and see if they can do anything about it. Before you know it I have 10 more TRIVIAL complaints booked in, merely because they thought they may as well whilst they’re here. Read the sign people, pleeeease! ‘ACCIDENT AND EMERGENCY’. If you haven’t had an accident and you don’t have an emergency, you’re nothing to do with us. We’re not here to dole out check-ups.
10. When you have just had a car crash, do not judge your injuries by what your car looks like. Modern cars have crumple zones; you are up and walking BECAUSE your Punto now looks like a concertina. If you feel ok, you probably are.
11. Immigrants from hot countries. All you Latinos and Africans new to this miserable climate, I appreciate there are scary-arse diseases in your countries and that you have to be wary of. But a cold is a cold is a cold. You WILL get at least one every year, more if you keep coming in here (germ central). Bed rest and lemsip my friend - not casualty.
12. Be nice to me (the receptionist - for my considerable sins). I’m all you have in the waiting room. Doctors looking down their noses at me. Thick-calved nurses roll their eyes at me. I’ll campaign to get you seen quicker/painkiller prescription filled a bit faster. But sit there calling me ‘Britney’, ‘Bitch’ or ‘A slut with no ambition’ (all genuine insults I’ve received), I’m going to do fuck all for you.