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1:49pm on Monday, 30th December, 2019:

Late Night


We didn't get up until half past nine this morning, which is perhaps explained by the fact we didn't get to bed until three. My father-in-law, who is in his nineties, had a fall and we had to drive the hour and fifteen minutes to his house, spend over an hour there with the police (who had to break in) and ambulance crews, then drive back.

This post isn't about my father-in-law's accident itself, though: it's about how the emergency services responded. The police were called first and after they forced an entry to the house they summoned the ambulance. The ambulance was on the scene within ten minutes, and the crew assessed the situation (possible broken wrist, possible broken hip). They tested the patient's pulse, realised it was racing, and hooked him up to a heart monitor. Spotting an issue, they called for backup from a specialist heart unit, who gave advice over the radio and arrived maybe fifteen minutes later. They were able to administer drugs that reduced the pain and so slowed the heartbeat. They then called for a third ambulance to whisk him away to the hospital at Cambridge that is the UK's premier specialist teaching hospital for heart problems.

My father-in-law was X-rayed upon arrival, and the fractured wrist and hip diagnoses were confirmed. His wrist was put in a plaster cast. He may have surgery on his hip today, but given his age it could be that it's too much of a risk. He'll be in hospital for at least a week, probably more like two, then perhaps he'll be moved to a more local hospital to convalesce (which could take many more weeks if he didn't have the operation).

This is world-class service, and it was completely free, paid for through the taxation system. If this had happened in the USA, we'd be looking at having to sell his house to pay for it (alternatively, we'd have already sold his house to pay for his insurance).

This is just one example of many hundreds of incidents that will have taken place overnight throughout the country. It illustrates why we rate the NHS as the single most important service that the government provides, and why any political party that attempted to break it up would never be elected ever again — a fact of which all parties are well aware.

The detrimental effects caused by a policeman's boot to my father-in-law's back door were repaired while we were there by a contractor; apparently, the police have to respond to such incidents frequently enough that they have someone on call to come and make good the damage.

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Copyright © 2019 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).