A fortnight ago had begun with a tickly throat nothing more, but by 10pm I was being rushed by my husband to A+E.
The throat had turned into gasping for breath, hacking repeated cough, high temperature and the straw that broke the camel's back - hallucinations. In a space of a few hours I had declined so rapidly, my husband would hear no more protestation and decided to drive me the 7 miles to hospital. On arrival he found a wheelchair and wheeled me from the car to the reception and booked me in. I could not hold my head up and lolled to one side in the chair. The triage nurse assessed me and queried pneumonia. I was then told I would have to wait for the medical doc, but the waiting room was not ideal for me so I was put in a nurses meeting room within A +E.
I was wheeled past a corridor full of sick people on trollies, past the packed waiting room and the cubicles (all full) and into the nurses meeting room. A healthcare assistant brought me some water and then scurried away. My husband asked a passing nurse whether there was anywhere I could lie down as I was in danger of falling out if the wheelchair as I could not hold my head up and was lolling to one side. She said everywhere was full, but she would see how long I had to wait to see the doctor as she could see I was very ill. My husband then asked for a pillow to support me, but was told there were none available, but perhaps a rolled up blanket may help?
My husband became increasingly worried as my breathing and coughing were worsening. I hardly knew what was going on around me, I just felt so very ill. The nurse came back and said it may take "some time" to be seen. She put her arm around my shoulder, and said "I know you are very ill and this isn't right. I'll do my best to get you seen ASAP."
My husband found out (and note this was a mid week Wednesday, not a weekend) that there were 4 doctors in the department, 2nurses and 1 healthcare assistant. Staff were overrun with sheer numbers of people to treat, and there were simply not enough of them to cope.
I was seen 2 hours after admission. The doctor apologised for the room they had to use temporarily. It was a store room with boxes in, with a makeshift treatment bed installed and no heating. It felt very cold but as my temperature was high, I did not care. The doctor made routine investigations and said I needed an X-ray but the X Ray department was "down"currently, as this would show up pneumonia for definite. He then gave us a frank appraisal of the current situation within the hospital.
"The hospital is full. There are no beds currently. It's midnight and I fear that if you were to wait for a bed, you would be here all night in a chair until the day staff come on shift. I can give you the antibiotics needed, but to be frank you will be better off in your own bed at home than waiting here. Should you worsen anymore then please come back, but some antibiotics may make a difference in next 48 hours."
As often happens, our son was returning from a school trip to London and my husband had to leave me to pick him up from school and return him home. A 45 minute dash until he could return to me at the hospital. He had asked the doctor for someone to keep an eye on me until he returned.
I waited for a nurse to return with the antibiotics and she said they needed the room so could I wait in the foyer. I replied I could not get up and walk as I was very weak. She said she did not have the time to wheel me into the foyer, so I would have to walk as best I could. I don't even remember walking to the hospital foyer. Just blurred visions of people passing by. I managed to get there and waited for my husband to return. A couple of teenagers asked me if I was alright as I was slumped in the chair. My husband returned and he later said he was so shocked and angry that I was dumped in a chair by the front door, that words failed him.
I returned home and battled through the next few days. I saw a practice GP and my husband related the hospital experience and the GP agreed it was totally unacceptable. "You should still be in hospital now" . The GP also said to hear the hospital was full mid week was a worry. I have now battled through the last fortnight. I returned and saw my GP yesterday who said he had heard people were being sent to Shrewsbury hospital some 50ish miles away. He said the situation for patients" was intolerable and was falling far below acceptable standards of care." I am now having further blood tests next week as I am still experiencing poor energy levels and feel very weak.
Staff in hospitals CARE Mr Cameron and Mr Hunt. There are not enough of them to cope. Wards have been shut. There are not enough beds to cope. Staff are doing their best in impossible circumstances with poor resources, yet Mr Hunt demoralises them on a daily basis, akin to IDS with his constant barracking of job seekers. I live in rural North Wales. It is hard enough with hospitals already few and far between, without thinking in future we have to travel to England for most healthcare. An elderly neighbour has been told her spinal op will be done in Staffordshire over 100 miles away. How are relatives supposed to visit their sick mother? It is in another country, miles away from her support network!
You are creating an NHS that frightened, ill people cannot recognise or understand. We all know you want to privatise the entire thing.We know that you want to create a ghetto system of care for those who cannot afford private health insurance, but hey it does not affect your sort Dave so us working classes can suffer!
I needed the NHS a fortnight ago desparately, but I was met by Cameron's version of the NHS, a 1984 Orwellian nightmare. If Labour and Andy Burnham gain power in 2015 will there be an NHS left to save?