25 October 2015

When did that happen?

Greg's sister has been staying with me for the weekend and yesterday we had a lovely drive down from London through the beautiful autumnal Kent countryside, albeit sometimes in pouring rain, to visit Kay for the evening. I say "for the evening" as she was on shift at the hospital all day, so we could only meet in the evening. After a lunch in one of the Kent towns, we moved much further on to the town where Kay lives. I showed sister-in-law the general area and then towards the end of the afternoon we went into Kay's hospital to "sightsee" and have a coffee to kill a bit of time. After coffee, as we wandered aimlessly along the maze of hospital corridors deep in conversation,  we were nearly bowled over by this young doctor coming hurriedly out of one of the side wards.  She was rushing for the staircase to go up to the next level where we could hear a klaxon going off even from our distant vantage point . As she flew past, she threw over her shoulder " Oooh hello. Sorry, mum, I can't stop, I'm off to a cardiac arrest." She disappeared in a flash.

Sister-in-law and I left the hospital shortly thereafter and met up with her again about two hours later in an Italian restaurant. She seemed so confident. So buzzing with energy. So interesting to listen to. So grown-up. My big little baby girl.

20 October 2015

Have you noticed?

I'm not sure why, but I have noticed a definite downturn in blog production. Not production of my own blog - I've always been a once-a-week or even once-a-fortnight blogger - but the blogs of others. The most avid blog writers have stemmed their production to a trickle and some have even disappeared off the face of blogland altogether. Not quite sure what all that means. Suffice it to say, I've got bloggers' block and can't think of a darn thing to say. Maybe it's something in the air or water ..........

picture courtesy of miratelinc.com

07 October 2015

A good place to get sick?

A good friend of mine has recently been diagnosed with cancer. She is not comfortable with hospitals or things medical, tending to feel faint as soon as her first footprint enters the building, so I have been accompanying her to the various appointments and scans as moral support and a distraction.

Yesterday she had to have yet another scan which took more than two hours from start to finish. During that time I had to make myself scarce, so I wandered round the hospital, its grounds and the surrounding area, taking a few photos at the same time. Not that I am recommending it, but if you are going too get sick, the view from the hospital couldn't surely get any grander......

and a 5-minute walk away got me here.......

Meanwhile,  still on the subject of hospitals and the good old National Health Service, my gorgeous daughter Kay has already completed two months in her role as a junior doctor (not at this hospital, I should add) and is thoroughly enjoying the experience. She has to do three 4-month placements in her first year as an F1 (Foundation Year 1) doctor and will need to follow this with another three 4-month placements as an F2 (Foundation Year 2) doctor next  year, after which she will be fully accepted as a registered doctor. So she is already halfway through her very first placement. 

Her contracted hours are 9 am -5pm, including being on-call  one weekend in four. The on-call shifts covers responsibility for "emergencies" around the whole hospital and that includes new patient intake from A&E.  That's the theory, but in practice on weekdays she usually starts on the ward at 7am to prepare for an 8am ward-round and the earliest she gets away is about 6pm, though the norm is about 9.30pm.  She gets something like 20 minutes for lunch. She's reckoned she is working around 20 hours+ overtime a week, although she does not get paid for overtime. When she works weekends, she is working 12 days in a run without a break (5 weekdays, the weekend and another 5 weekdays) and all averaging 13-hour shifts. The pay compared with other non-medical graduates' starting pay is not fanstastic, but comparable, except other graduates are not working 20 hours' overtime and get to experience a lot of spare time. By the time Kay walks home at 9.30pm and grabs a meal, it's time to fall into bed and start the process all over again the next day. By the time she's paid off six years' student loans and accommodation, it doesn't leave much in her bank account.

Now, don't get me wrong, she loves the job and is still in that phase of excitement that she is doing the job of her dreams. Her fellow junior doctors are the same. They wouldn't dream of walking out on a patient because the deadline of 5pm has come. They stay longer,  and much longer again, out of the goodness of their hearts to wait for the results of an urgent blood test, speak to a patient's family , or prescribe an urgent drug. However there is love for the job and then there is being treated like a doormat.  The Health Secretary wants to reduce their pay and extend their hours even further. He clearly thinks they are currently only working to contracted hours (which they aren't) and should work longer (which they're already doing). All for less pay.  Meanwhile some MPs are campaigning that MPs should work shorter hours so they can see more of their families and get a 10% pay-rise. What an amazing juxtaposition! No wonder then that the junior doctors are set to protest about their conditions. The point is also not that these poor young doctors should have fat wallets and (God forbid) some life outside work,  but that an exhausted doctor does not make a good doctor and could make life-threatening mistakes. Would you want your sick relative to be treated by a doctor who is barely awake?

How pertinent that the hospital my friend and I attended yesterday is already geographically in the face-off with the government.