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1:18pm on Friday, 21st November, 2014:

Pressure Off


One of my colleagues at work showed me a picture of one of his relatives who broke her leg and had to go to hospital to get it fixed. She was in a plaster cast from foot to thigh. The thing is, though, she went to Colchester General Hospital, which is still experiencing its "major incident" problem and only accepting people in accident and emergency who have life-threatening injuries. A broken leg does apparently count as a valid reason to go, and she was given immediate treatment.

What this goes to show is that if people do treat hospital accident and emergency services as exactly that, then they work fine. You go to the walk-in centre down the road if you've cut your finger and need a couple of stitches, not to A&E.

The exception seems to be on Saturday nights, when A&E departments are swamped with drunks who have managed to hurt themselves in large numbers. They have to be treated, of course, but treating them is expensive as it means extra staff have to be brought in. Maybe charging people £250 if they showed up at A&E with more than a certain level of alcohol in their blood would be a solution? After all, they've willfully contributed to their condition, and there could be an appeals process for drunks who got hurt through no fault of their own (eg. they're asleep in bed when the truck skids into their house). Sure, an excess charge wouldn't put anyone off drinking, but it would mean the rest of us didn't have to pay to repair them.

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Copyright © 2014 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).