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.