Being in A+E on a weekend is a different experience to anything I have ever seen or heard. I have seen people brought in on stretchers, screaming like death-metal stars or shouting loudly about everything. I have watched from cubicles as nurses and doctors have been attacked physically and even injured just for trying to help someone. Heck I have even been in A+E when someone came in and decided he was going to try and rape me in a cubicle (which is why I get so wary of going in on my own) and I have seen just what people have had to withstand.
I have a lot of admiration for frontline staff. People who deal with the patients and are often the first to suffer when one of them decides that they can't behave or won't let them work. Around about now, I would hate to be working as a paramedic or an A+E staff member because they are so overworked, underpaid and very under-appreciated. I often think of when one pair of paramedics came to see me and they said that the most wonderful thing they had seen all day was a patient who was polite, friendly and most of all, smiled and engaged them like real people. They almost felt sad to leave me because when they went, they were going to head off to more abuse, violence and sometimes just called out for the sake of having someone to talk to.
So this New Years, please, stop and think. Before you go to A+E or call the 9's, ask yourself:
1. Is the problem something you could ask a pharmacist/GP/NHS111 person about? There are excellent NHS Out of Hours doctors and services. They can actually get you patched up quickly and sometimes even a pharmacist can help you (you'd be amazed at what they can do).
2. Could you actually die from this problem? Breathing problems, chest pain, loss of consciousness, blood loss, stroke are the kinds of things 999 are there for. Fell over from too much to drink and sprained your ankle, yes it hurts but it's nothing a bag of frozen peas won't fix.
3. Going to A+E or getting an ambulance WON'T always get you seen to fast enough and sometimes theres nothing they can do anyway, you may have to wait until Monday anyway. Can this wait? Does it need to be seen to right this second?
Of course, please stay safe over the new year period. And if you know of anyone who may benefit from a friend/relative just popping by to say "Hello" and have a drink with them. It could be the best thing you could give someone, the gift of company. I hope you all have a wonderful new year and I hope that 2015 brings peace, love and happiness.