I worked all over Christmas and New Year and it has been extremely busy. I guess it’s the usual mixture of alcohol, seasonal flu, adverse weather conditions and the perceived unavailability of GP services during the holidays, all culminating in the previously unseen number of calls. Whichever of these it was, there has certainly been an impact on our ambulance response times and in addition the length of time has increased for patients who are waiting to be seen in A&E departments.
It still has to be said though, that a large majority of the calls that I attended really didn’t warrant an ambulance response.
I often wonder why people worry so much about things that are unlikely to have a negative long-term effect on them; yet they continue to smoke cigarettes or drive without seatbelts for example when the detrimental effects of these are well-proven. Perhaps we all prefer to believe in an external locus of control over our fate rather than face the fact that we are responsible for some of our misfortunes. Is this a more palatable option?
I feel that the media must also take some of the responsibility. Increasingly they scaremonger and contribute to making people think that even if all they are suffering are the lesser symptoms of simple flu (and they are normally healthy beings), that they should still be very worried.
Irresponsible reporting, with the front pages continually highlighting the comparatively small number of people who have died from flu, only serve to panic people. The ‘worried-well‘ bombard NHS Direct, GPs and even ambulance services for reassurance and solutions. The result of which means that the system becomes clogged up and inadvertently it also slows down our ability to respond to the genuinely ill and injured.
Very sick people now have to wait undue lengths of time for an emergency response while that response is dealing with someone ‘suffering’ with a nasty case of the sniffles. The result of which maybe be catastrophic if the very sick person already has other health challenges. As yet, sadly no amount of public education seems to have an impact on the propensity of people to think of us for minor health problems before their GPs.
Suggestions on a postcard please….