Shackles (Care in chains)

I am immensely pissed off.

For those of you who are unaware of the line of ‘work’ I am tied to, I work for the ambulance service as a paramedic. Now don’t get me wrong, I still believe in the role and am still touched with a vague sense of warmth mixed with a bit of smug that I am able to call myself a paramedic. Sadly, due to the NHS being led by a bunch of… ahem… tossers, I see people put at risk everyday. It’s all I can do not to rip off my epaulettes and scream my dissent.

Every facet of the NHS is target driven. None more so than the ambulance service. For obvious reasons we need to get to the address of a given incident within a ‘target’ time. For a life threatening emergency that target is eight minutes. This is great if you’re the patient. Its even better if you live in a town, because chances are, there will be an ambulance floating about looking for death when you need one.

But what if you live a bit further out?

The performance of the ambulance service is judged on how often they ‘hit’ their targets. That means that for every patient we get to within eight minutes – we’ve done a good job. To put it another way, a much more realistic way in fact is to say this:

We get to a patient in nine minutes and that patient lives to see another day. This is a fail.

We get to a patient in eight minutes and that patient dies. This is a success.

What the f*!k? Why does this happen?

Well, in our managements infallible judgement, listening to a 999 call come in and deciding on the best level of a response before it is sent is a complete waste of time. Apparently, its far better to have an ambulance light up like a christmas tree and accelerate to warp speed in the direction of that call – as soon as the switchboard has identified a 999 call coming from an address. Bare in mind that an ambulance, and certainly a fast response car will eat up the road between the address and their initial location very quickly – chances are they’ll be with you before the operator has even worked out what you’re calling for. Sounds great doesn’t it? Thats such a fast response and management pat each other on the back and there is much rejoicing in the control room. Then, the paramedic on scene calls up. He’s angry. He wants to know why he was diverted off of an asthma attack ten miles away to attend a patient with a hurty knee.

Oh yeah, that’s right… he never would have got to the asthma attack in eight minutes. Congratulations management. Oh, before you celebrate by playing golf or I don’t know, blowing each other – can you please tighten my shackles?

I am going to stop writing here. I could say much, much more. Yet I am playing a dangerous game moaning about this anyway.

Those who work in the NHS will know of the shackles we all wear as we try to perform our duties.

I just wish the patients could see them too.


Author: Mark S Thompson

Okay, so these things are kind of hit and miss. If you’re reading this then I am thankful to you for taking the time out of your day to do so. I’ll be honest, when I think of myself as a writer, I kinda cringe. Don’t get me wrong, it is the dream, it's​ just I never really believe it will go anywhere. When I think back to the day that I first knew I loved writing, and I mean really knew, I see myself sitting in an English lesson at secondary school. The school was called Wrotham and is in the county of Kent, England. As far as I know, it's still there. English was far and away my favourite subject. The best bit was when the teacher gave the class a selection of words and asked us to make up a story that either contained those words or was about those words, you know. At other times we would be given the first sentence and then write what happens next. Good times. Many times my work would reflect what I had recently read and it would be okay. Nothing special, just okay. On one occasion though I wrote about a merman called Finchy and can remember going into so much depth and detail about him and the underwater kingdom he lived in. I really enjoyed writing that and it must have shown because my teacher commented on it. She was really impressed and loved the story. That was it for me, my moment. Now when I write I think back to those great times and to that story. Hopefully, I’ll write something that you, the reader, will be moved to comment on. For me, there is no greater elixir

2 thoughts on “Shackles (Care in chains)”

  1. I feel your pain, Mark.

    I work in cancer services and boy, do I know how harsh the NHS targets are? For Cancer Waiting Times, there is NO room for compassion at all. Patients diagnosed with cancer who have been referred in under the GP 2 Week Rule WILL BE TREATED WITHIN 62 DAYS! Because if they’re not, the PCTs will fine the Acute Trust’s ass.

    Patient wants some time to think about a potentially life-saving – and life CHANGING – operation? Clinically, of course they can. They must! It’s their life, for goodness sake. But no. Under the ‘guidelines’, the clock cannot stop. They may take a holiday with their grandchildren which could be their last… and the clock cannot stop.

    I took have great pride in working for the NHS. It just saddens me deeply that the government don’t understand compassion at all.


    1. That is a truly appalling rule is it not?

      I spend a great deal of time at the moment wondering about what will happen if the NHS reforms go ahead. I wonder about how patients will be affected and if, in the end, will they will be better off?

      Also, depending on how severe the reforms are… will I even have job? Or will some private company rock up and kick my ass out the door?

      One things for sure, and thats that PCTs wont be around to have a say. Is that a good thing? I’m not sure.


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