The NHS cuts doctors nurses midwives medical emergency

Why I Hope My Doctor is Off Having a Cup of Tea (as seen on The Huffington Post. Yup, ACTUAL Huffpost!)

I recently wrote an article on the eight weeks I spent in the NHS, in the build up to having my tiny little Iris. It was the scariest time ever, and unfortunately I’m not very good at being funny when I talk about it! I was over the moon to find out that The Huffington Post wanted to publish it!

I’m so overwhelmed by the reaction I’ve received off the back of it from the amazing people in the NHS and their patients. Please, take a read, and share if you want, and as always I would love to know your thoughts on it!

Here it is….

The other day, I was in a hospital waiting room waiting for an ultrasound appointment. There was a couple next to me, and they were not happy. Apparently, as the whole waiting room were finding out: their doctor was running late. After sighing repeatedly, getting up to ask the receptionist about 14 times how long they would be and talking very loudly about how ‘f***ing useless [the medical staff] all are’, the man turned to me, as if somehow we were kindred spirits, and said “forty f***ing’ minutes late! You know full well they’re all just in there having a cup of tea or faffing about with paperwork. You can’t possibly be running forty minutes late at ten thirty in the morning.”

He looked at me and waited for me to agree with him and join in the ruthless slander on the NHS. I shrugged “Well, I certainly hope so” I said, before turning back to the seven year old copy of Heat I had found (did you know that Katie and Peter have split up?).

Realising that he had not found his new BFF, the man went back to moaning loudly to his disinterested girlfriend, and didn’t press me on whether I had just said what he thought I’d said. But I did say it, and I did hope it. I did hope that his doctor was off surfing Facebook or ‘faffing about’ with paperwork.

I’ll explain.

When I was 27 weeks pregnant with the youngest baby H, I was at a family party when I started bleeding. A lot. After screaming for my husband, both he and my Mum rushed me to hospital. I rang on the way, bordering on hysterical, and was told by a kind and efficient midwife to come straight to the delivery ward where they would be waiting for me. They were, and as I walked through the doors, a doctor and several midwives were there waiting, and rushed me in to triage without wasting a second. As I lay on the bed, crying and waiting to hear that we had lost our precious unborn baby, I was introduced to our doctor, Elizabeth, who immediately tried to find our daughter’s heartbeat. Within minutes someone had located a scanner and she was able to show us that she was still alive in there. In a ridiculous blur of activity, I was checked over, attached to a monitor and told a flurry of information that I didn’t hear a word of. All I did hear is that there was a large possibility that they were going to need to deliver that night. When a sudden extra gush of blood came, I was rushed in another room where I was then attached to a drip, and a number of other medical things that to this day I can’t remember what they all were. Within half an hour of stepping foot through the doors, on a Saturday night,I was introduced to a stream of medical professionals: an anaesthetist, someone from NICU, and more doctors and nurses. I couldn’t really take any of it in, but I knew our situation was dangerous and they were doing everything they could to keep me and my tiny baby safe. That same night I was given steroids for the baby’s lungs, magnesium to protect her brain, and was monitored non stop for 24 hours.

The NHS cuts doctors nurses midwives medical emergency

Long story short, they didn’t need to deliver that night. The bleeding stopped and it emerged that the baby was ok. We weren’t totally out of the woods, but for now we were going to be OK. I was kept in for five days, three of which I was on 24 hour monitoring, with a midwife in our room at nearly all times and checks being done hourly. After six days, I was allowed to leave. A bit shaken up, but OK. We were told that no-one could be sure whether it would happen again. I would need to go for extra scans for the rest of my pregnancy to monitor the baby and I, but potentially that could be the end of it until we delivered.

It wasn’t. Two weeks later I bled again, luckily much lighter, but it still called for another three day admission. I was let out, only to be back in two days later, and so it continued. In total I was admitted and let out again seven times.

During our multiple stays in there, we were treated by a steady stream of doctors, midwives and care assistants. When my husband wasn’t there when I was taken in on our third bleed, one of the midwives didn’t go for her tea break and held my hand whilst a doctor checked me over. I was allocated a consultant, a very cool German, Boris Johnson-esque man who was straight talking but made me laugh. He explained that the reason they weren’t delivering was because our baby was safe, and showed no signs of being affected by all of it, so for now she was safer inside me than out. Every time I was admitted, he would come and see me several times to see how I was doing. No matter how many people needed him, and how busy he was, he would come and see me.

The NHS cuts doctors nurses midwives medical emergency

On the fifth (perhaps, who knows at this point) admission, the bleed that had led me to be in there again had been heavy, and I was starting to lose faith. I started telling myself that no matter they were saying, our baby was not going to be OK. No one could bleed this much and still be ok. I felt like shit, and I was on the verge of totally falling apart. One of the doctors in my consultant’s team, Eli, came in just doing the normal rounds that they did every day. I don’t know whether she just is like this to everyone, or whether she could see I wasn’t handling it so well anymore. But instead of the usual two minute run through of what was going on, the same polite smile and then leave, she stayed for ages and told me things were going to be OK. She explained why the baby really was safer inside, and what was going to happen. She stayed and answered a thousand questions and didn’t leave until I was done. She didn’t tell me that she had a million more important things to do and that I was wasting her time.

When it was decided that I would eventually deliver, at 35 weeks, My midwife spent her break finding me ice because I kept saying how much I needed it. Eli, the same doctor as before, supervised the whole thing and came in throughout my labour to check if I was doing OK because she knew I wasn’t. When my waters had to be broken and it was uncertain whether I would start to bleed again and need an emergency section, a team of specialists were outside our hospital room to jump into action just in case.

The NHS cuts doctors nurses midwives medical emergency

Here’s the thing: none of those people ‘had the time’. When I came in, bleeding and terrified at 27 weeks, no doctors or midwives would have been scheduled on purely to keep my baby alive. As a result of preventing me from bleeding to death, another patient was probably kept waiting for Elizabeth. Somebody’s scheduled C-Section was probably held up whilst it was determined whether my 27 week old foetus needed to be delivered. No midwives would have been timetabled to stay at my bedside constantly to make sure things didn’t go downhill. When I was not holding it together, Eli probably didn’t have the time to sit and answer a thousand of my irrational questions. Someone was probably rude to her as a result of being kept waiting because of me. Someone was kept waiting because my consultant was making the decision that delivering my baby was the safest way of making sure she survived.

Since talking to other people about my time in NHS, I have been inundated with stories of the same nature. My friend went for a scan on her twins to be told one had passed away. Her sonographer stayed with her for 45 minutes while she cried and waited to be told by a doctor what was going to happen. Her appointment would have been scheduled to be 15 minutes long. A client of mine, who had lost a baby previously, told me how her community midwife cancelled everything when she went in to labour early when her husband was overseas with the military and had no-one there with her. When another friend was told she had cancer, her GP didn’t tell her that her ten minutes was up and she needed to stop crying and leave his office so that his next patient wasn’t kept waiting.

I am certainly no expert on the NHS, and I have no valid information when it comes to budget cuts. I know the increasing number of cuts are bad, and I know patients are missing out because of it. I know Jeremy Hunt is trying to blame much of the failings on all those ‘lazy, greedy doctors’. Whilst I know the latter to be mostly bollocks, I don’t know enough about the goings on in UK hospitals to have any real opinion on any of that side of it. But what I do know, is that when me and my tiny offspring needed them, they were there for us. Yes, there were times I was kept waiting. There were times I was told someone would be there in the morning and I didn’t see them until the evening. But when we needed them, they were there. And as a result, my baby is here now and I will never stop being thankful for them.

The NHS cuts doctors nurses midwives medical emergency

So now, whenever I’m kept waiting, I hope to god that its because my doctor is off playing solitaire or washing his Mercedes. I hope that they’re running late because they’re surfing Facebook and drinking coffee.

The alternative- and lets face it, the truth- is that someone needs them at that moment and they can’t get away. The chances are they’re having to deal with something that they can’t get away from and they can’t just walk out of because they’re running late. They don’t have the option to deal with it next week because they have better things to do right now. People’s lives don’t wait.

How much more convenient is it to think, as my dear friend from the waiting room said, that those ‘lazy, useless doctors’ are wasting his time ‘faffing about’.

I hope they are.

If those doctors and nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants are off wasting time doing paperwork and chatting, it means that they aren’t helping another person who’s life is falling apart, and that perhaps somewhere, someone like me is absolutely terrified and facing the possibility that they’re about to lose their perfect little baby.

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55 thoughts on “Why I Hope My Doctor is Off Having a Cup of Tea (as seen on The Huffington Post. Yup, ACTUAL Huffpost!)

  1. winstonbrianaj says:

    I really loved this and I think it truly gives everyone a different perspective on the way we should look at things. A lot of people never even think about the other possibilities about what’s going on until they have fully experienced this and even some that have gone through what you have been through still don’t make that connection. Most people just assume that when a doctor or anyone for that matter is late it’s because they’re doing something selfish and they don’t take the time to think about what could be going on. I definitely now this will help me exercise more patience next time I’m late at the doctors office . Thank you for sharing

    Liked by 1 person

    • Eleanor V. Moslein says:

      Sometimes I have waited for an hour to see my doctor. I ALWAYS have the newest book that I am reading with me. What I have found in all cases(except for one and that guy was meeting with reps from drug companies and I know that because his receptionist told me after waiting for two hours that he was “busy” with the reps)is that when it is my turn to see my doctor(s) they give me the time I need. Since I love reading I bring my book and time passes quickly. God bless this young woman and her tiny–but tough and strong–little girl. And God bless the medical team.

      Liked by 2 people

      • winstonbrianaj says:

        Yes I definitely always try to carry a book with me as well because you never know what could be going on. And in the medical field we never know what they are dealing with so it’s best to prepare yourself to just wait at least for a little while just in case! And I’ve also never been rushed or blown off by a doctor because they had some other obligation. I sometimes think people just don’t realize how much they are really there for us when we need them.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. downssideup says:

    Simply perfect post. The medical angels are there to provide a safety net few of us need to experience, but when we do, we know. we know enough to write what you have written, and we cry inside to hear the ignorant moan about trifles, such as waiting…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Anna Brophy says:

    Absolutely, to every word! I was desperately reading, waiting to see if you and your baby were well. Thrilled for you and so pleased as Mums (& Dads) we get such fantastic treatment, especially when we are monumentally TERRIFIED…I know I did here in Melb, Australia. X

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Lesley King says:

    Fantastic article. My pregnancy was pretty much perfect but that didn’t mean I didn’t feel truly and utterly cared for during labour and the complications that happened after. I’m the daughter of a GP and granddaughter of 2 doctors and 2 nurses. The NHS has given us so much to be grateful for.

    Like

  5. ishappinessspoonfed says:

    This was a beautiful heart wrenching story. I am so glad to hear that it worked out for you and your baby that I am in tears and your gratitude is palpable. Thank you for the much needed perspective for the entitled humans among us which let’s face it includes everyone even myself. So glad huff post published this.

    Like

  6. fortheloveofpeas says:

    This is the best post yet. What an amazing story. So pleased to hear your little one was ok after a very traumatic time in and out of hospital. There are still patches of your fabulous humour but with a real message to all of those out there being ‘inconvenienced’ due to a bit of lateness. Such a great post and I cannot compliment it enough. Nina from theloveofpeas.co.uk x.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. SC says:

    Thanks for posting this. As a physician, I am always having to apologize to irate patients who don’t realize why I’m running late. One ill patient can take up a considerable amount of time and then you’re behind schedule for the rest of the day. It is sad that majority of the people do indeed think we are just loitering around drinking Starbucks. There are days when I don’t even use the toilet or eat lunch just so that I won’t be so behind schedule. Of course we would love to be on schedule so that we can get home to our families and spend more time with our little ones!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Paula Hendryx says:

    Thank you for your kind words. I am an OBGYN in the US. We run behind, we get cursed. In the end, we mostly run… Thank you for understanding.

    Like

  9. Dawn Linn says:

    Very well written and thanks for standing up for us. The field of medicine can not be understood unless you work in it. Unfortunately our society is full of expectations that are all about me and our minds usually think less about others. I wrote a similar piece a few years ago myself. Thank God for your beautiful baby! All in a day’s work.

    http://raphafamilywellness.com/blog/2013/9/18/why-in-thedoes-a-doctor-schedule-an-appointment-for-240-and-keep-my-ass-in-the-waiting-room-for-at-least-30-minutes

    Like

    • theridiculousmrsh says:

      Thank you Dawn! I’ll take a look at your article this afternoon. After what we went through, I’m definitely happier to be the one waiting than the one who didn’t have to wait even a minute! Thank you for reading xx

      Like

  10. Amandeep Sodhi says:

    As a physician in the USA, I deal with the same issue of being late at all times because there are phone calls to be made, authorizations to be done, hospitals, call, nervous patients need to be soothed and on and on… there are times I dont even get a chance to take a loo break! Dont remember the last time I actually sat and ate lunch..usually eat while on the phone or completing medical records..

    Like

  11. jenpenny says:

    thank you so much for writing this. I’m a junior doctor in obstetrics and what you have said is totally spot on. I love my job, I love being with people in the most difficult, the saddest and also the most joyful moments of their lives. I understand the frustration people feel when they have to wait for me and other members of my team- I’ve been sat in that waiting room with my antenatal appointment running 2 hrs behind… – but you’re right, the sad fact is that we’re most likely NOT having a cup of tea.

    Like

  12. lovinglivinglaughinglearning says:

    Thank you from a hospital pediatrician. Often I wish patients and their families really saw what we did- why I can’t round on your relatively healthy kid first, why I keep you waiting, or why I can’t be right there when YOU need to talk to me. We’re pulled in a lot of directions and expected to just hold it together. I get it, we’re supposed to suck it up and just do it. We try and sometimes we can’t be perfect. Thanks for putting our point of view into perspective. So that we can try to be there for you as much as we can.

    Like

  13. Annetx says:

    Thank you for sharing your story! I was a Labor & Delivery nurse for 20 years. I used to tell my patients we were like firefighters. If you’re not on fire, you may have to wait a bit. If you are on fire, that’s where I’ll be. I’m now in IT, and sometimes I miss my patients. I’m glad my colleagues across the pond are doing such great work!

    Like

  14. Ingrid Feder says:

    Thank you. I’m a doctor in Connecticut, and I really loved your article. If someone really needs me, time stops, and for a while only this person and only his or her problem exist for me, no matter what the cost later on. It’s like a window opens and I know that I need to be there for this very person at this very moment. It’s nice to know that some people understand, because, sadly, way too many do not.

    Like

  15. Ajit says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. You see i am doctor and i have many irate patients and relations who cant hide their frustrations. They sometimes don’t see that some appointments and even their own consultations go longer than what they should have had (prescribed limit). Its difficult for us to write an article as you have as it just comes across as excuses and whingeing.
    Thank you again.

    Like

  16. Georgia Smith says:

    What a terrific explanation of the daily life of a physician. As an oncology director, I see how many times our doctors and nurses are waylaid to deal with emotional healing. I am so glad you had doctors and midwives, who realized that you need more than physical care. Bless you for making the public think about what goes on behind the scenes of healthcare and bless your adorable baby for beating the odds to prompt you to blog this.

    Like

  17. drkottaway says:

    Reblogged this on KO Rural Mad As Hell Blog and commented:
    I have helped out in the ER when the doctor was running two codes simultaneously… the last time a person yelled at me for running late, I said, “Well, I had to call pulmonology, cardiology and infectious disease about my last person. How are you?” In the US, apparently primary care doctors running at burnout has risen from 40% to 50%. Not a good situation, so thank you for this post…..

    Like

  18. Tess says:

    I went to BC Women and Childrens at 29 weeks with heavy bleeding. The pain was so intense I was shaking and sweating, but I wasn’t vocal: I found a chair in the corner of the room and tried every strategy to cope with the pain in silence, my vision tunneling, as my partner told the desk why I was there. I didn’t look pregnant. Not at all. Meanwhile, a woman who did look to be at term and was clearly in labour and was very vocal. Her husband was demanding immediate attention loudly. Someone assigned to triage walked past them to my corner and knelt before me: she rested her hand on my knee and asked questions, which I can’t recall. I don’t know what I said, or didn’t say, but she put me in a wheelchair and took me to a room then and there. As I left the waiting room I recall the loud protests from the other couple and I remember feeling particularly guilty that they’d taken me when the other woman was obviously at term. Within 60 minutes, though, my second son was delivered and in NICU on a ventilator. He stayed in NICU for 2.5 months. He was due 11 years ago today but was in fact born August 24. At least 11 assisted: a team for me and a team for my baby. How grateful I am for the life of my son and for those professionals who knew what was before them in the waiting room that day.

    Like

  19. Sara says:

    This is put so well, and such a lovely insight. Thank you for fearlessly putting it out there.

    As many others – I relate as someone who has worked in a specialists’ office and seen both sides. Patients’ frustration with waiting is real. But so are the analytics that many physicians have to answer to with their average wait times and visit times. Their ‘incentive’ (and quiet literally financially all too often) is *not* to take extra time with a patient.

    After listening to a physician basically tell an administrator where they could stuff it when his wait time was questioned because he’d just had to deliver a new MS diagnosis – I had a newfound respect for these guys.

    You might find doctors who will push the patients through – we have to remember that these are likely the same people we’d criticize for having no bedside manner. I’ll take one who uses a few extra minutes to dole out some compassion or extra energy to an urgent need any day.

    And for heaven’s sake – all of you physicians out there – PLEASE- take a moment – have that cup of tea – reset after you’ve had to give someone bad news or deal with an emergent situation. You have one of the most emotionally trying jobs there is if you’re bothering to really connect to it – so I willingly give up 10 minutes of my day for you to cope with yours.

    Like

  20. Jess says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. I’m a medical student in the US and your article reminded me of why I want to go into medicine. And how much it matters to be there for your patient!

    Like

  21. Laki says:

    God bless your little one!
    For you to share such a heart filled story, you’re simply amazing and definitely a very strong woman! I admire you.
    Everything you said is on point, no matter what, healthcare professionals definitely must show empathy and commitment towards their patients and clearly for you, they have done an excellent job!
    Sending you and your beautiful daughter my love! ❤️

    Like

  22. Angela says:

    Great article!!
    Another point, if everyone visiting the doc for nonemergent reasons just looked at the waiting room in a doc’s office (or DMV, car repair, etc) as “break time” from their life they’d be much happier. At this point, I’m an adult and have been through this before. I know I’m going to be sitting for at least 15 min- hour. I bring a book. Have my phone charged and headphones ready. I can watch Netflix. Indulge in magazines I’d never spend money on. You are stuck so just relax. Get a note–boss *should* understand. I’m sure they’ve been to the doc too. And for goodness sakes, pack a little bag for the kids. Easier than nagging them to sit still the whole time. 🙂

    Like

  23. Geh200 says:

    There are so many times we have to deal with that situation and are met with patients who may not understand this. As physicians we know all of our patients have anxiety and fear and we give our best to them. Many many times we put our family and needs last, skip meals, don’t eat, work night and weekends.. I can’t count the times that I have cancelled or postponed personal issues for my patients. It is such comfort to know that some patients understand we are not robots and shows gratitud. That goes a long way. It is all we need to know that the sacrifices are worth it.

    Like

  24. Cathyparlitsis says:

    Thanks so much for sharing your story. It’s an eye opener for some, I’m sure. Besides the care and compassion, doctors give up YEARS of their lives studying and graduate with hundreds of thousand of dollars in debt. They miss holidays and weddings and vacations and countless other fun “normal” activities that the rest of us take for granted. They earn EVERY PENNY and then some!

    Like

  25. R - R says:

    As a doctor who has always prioritised giving patients the time they need over the “allocated” 10 or 15 minutes, and my rapidly erroded morale for my work, and faith in the general public’s appreciation of the NHS I just want to say this to you:

    Thank you. x10,000

    Like

  26. amphomma says:

    Thank you, from a doctor’s wife in the U.S. I also have a renewed admiration for the way I know my husband treats his patients’ time as more valuable than his own. Bless you and your family.

    Like

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