Like many of my colleagues this week I had to forsake the car and walk in to work. Having finally made it in I was crewed up on an ambulance with a guy who had also tackled the journey on foot. Our first patient was a ninety year old female with a head injury. We battled through the snowy roads to get to her cosy and well heated little flat. She had had a simple fall that morning while navigating around her home with her zimmer frame and banged her head on the wall. Luckily none of the circumstances or physical findings were worrying; it all looked like it could be a straight forward treat and leave at home job. I suggested to her son that I could clean and glue her wound on scene to save her going to hospital – provided that there would be someone to keep an eye on her for the next 24 hours as guidance recommends this (NICE Head Injury Guidance). In the case of the patient having any deterioration in their condition, there would be someone on hand to notice and summon help.
“But I don’t live here, I live around the corner” he replied, as if this was some kind of major hurdle to him observing his mother.
“It would be a shame to take her out in these treacherous conditions to hospital if she doesn’t need it” I said, explaining that many NHS staff had been unable to get in to work during this period of adverse weather conditions so the ambulance service and hospitals were stretched to capacity. She would probably have a long wait to be seen and treated and then she would need a lift home too. He took a minute ot two to mull this over then said.
“No, I don’t think that’s a resonable request. I think that you should just take her in to hospital.”
So, we took the lady out in to the knee high snow and undertook the slow journey to the local hospital. We found out later that when nursing staff called the son to come and collect her, he argued with them and said that she should be brought home by an ambulance. Despite the extreme weather conditions and knowing the impact this was having on the struggling NHS I found his total selfishness very difficult to understand. It was his lack of compassion towards his mother however, that we found the most unsettling.