So, yesterday I left for work an hour early… and arrived an hour early! The tube was running absolutely fine; the only thing that took longer than usual was buying my dinner because half the shops at Waterloo were closed and there were only three tills open at Marks and Spencer.
I got to work just as the “extreme over capacity plan” (which, incidentally, I think should be renamed the “getting rid of rubbish calls” plan and used every single day) was winding down. Apparently, for most of the day, anyone ringing with a non life threatening problem (that is, green and some amber calls) were told they needed to make their own way hospital, unless it was blindingly obvious that they couldn’t, in which case sector were allowed to use their common sense and send an ambulance. CTA (telephone advice) were ringing back all the calls that hadn’t been refused but hadn’t received an ambulance yet either and some of the callers were being referred to NHS Direct, GPs, etc, and some were being upgraded. At the point when I took over, there were a few calls waiting, but everyone I rang back was very understanding about the delays, and we soon cleared them off when the night crews started at 7pm. Even though we took over 5000 calls yesterday (nearly as many as New Year’s Eve), it wasn’t a lot busier than an ordinary busy evening. I was surprised that there were no serious RTAs, but perhaps people had the sense not to drive. There were a lot of people falling over in the road and breaking bones, but considerably less drunks, so it evened out.
Unfortunately at this point the rules went back to normal and there were clearly several callers who hadn’t been watching the “life threatening emergencies only” coverage on the TV because we got the following calls:
* Child fallen in snow, very minor cut on head. Crew arrived, parents wanted them to stitch wound. Crew did not think wound needed stitching and are not able to do it anyway. Crew told parents child would have to go to hospital. Family became abusive and said they didn’t want to go to hospital in this weather and that ambulance crew were useless for not being able to do it at home. Family then said they were going to follow ambulance in their car as they wanted ambulance crew to insist patient was seen immediately in A+E. Ambulance crew said patient would not be seen any quicker if they took him. Family put patient in car and drove off. Ambulance crew and North East Allocator agreed wholeheartedly that they hoped family had a long, cold wait in A+E.
* 20 year old female, suffering from period pains.
* 29 year old male, has a funny lump on his tongue.
* 16 year old male, fainted during snowball fight.
* 32 year old female, spot on back for two days.
Fortunately, none of the last three got an ambulance as CTA were able to point them in a more suitable direction (perhaps a bottle of Clearasil in the case of the last one.) The snow seems to have melted a bit now, so I expect everything will be back to normal all night.