Mona R.Babajee

My stay in an NHS Hospital

I don’t know if I can call it a hex but since 2008, I have been plagued with an illness every September. This year, I thought I’ll get away with it, since I am away but that wasn’t to be.

At the beginning of September, after two days of nonstop vomiting, I had to be taken to hospital where I stayed for a whole week. I was also shaking like a leaf with a high temperature. I already had one foot in the grave and had to summon all the angels of the universe for their help. And the treatment I got from the medical and nursing staff was out of this world. All doctors and other members of the personnel who came to see me in my room introduced themselves (this is the usual practice) and there were so many but the state I was in, I could barely register the names. I ask myself if any doctor at home will introduce himself to a patient on a ward or in A&E unless one is footing a bill as long as one’s arm in a private clinic. Well, who knows we might get to see it one day.

I threw up for two more days and used so many disposable bowls but the nurses didn’t mind one single bit to dispose of them. Took me to the time in September 2009 in ward 9 at Dr Jeetoo Hospital when I was flatly refused a bowl to clean my teeth by a student nurse and a Health care assistant. Eventually I fished in my locker for “a sac 50 sous” and spat in it, I couldn’t walk to the bathroom and there was stupid me begging for a bowl with a begging bowl. The nurses do get away with a lot of things there, complaints or no complaints. If it was me doing that to a patient in my young days, the Director of Nursing would have given me a severe warning or my marching orders the next day, meaning a right royal kick.

I would also like someone from the Ministry of Health to tell me if telling an elderly patient to pee in the nappy is a new form of treatment in our hospitals which has just been devised, because I’ve never heard of it. You can’t do that to patients who have their faculties. When we enter hospital, we leave our modesty behind the door but not our dignity. These are two different things altogether and I also think our Minister should do spot checks on the ward and go incognito and ask patients how they are being treated. No visit should be announced beforehand. The patient comes first and we are supposed to be here for their welfare, for that’s what we are here for and that’s what we are being paid for.

Unfortunately for me, after the sickness it was loose motion and had to be on intravenous infusion for five days. Don’t think the nurses here have an easy life. Day duty starts at 7.30am or 8am until 8pm. No sleeping during the night shift. Nowadays, they have to work both days and nights as well, not like in the past.

As for the food, I love English roasts but unfortunately I couldn’t do justice to it. Cereals for breakfast, tea, bread, butter, jam, marmalade and every morning and afternoon someone would come round and you would have a choice of three different roasts, chicken, beef or lamb meat with all the trimmings or fish. Sometimes you could opt for pasta. For dessert, it was trifle or jelly or yoghurt and a fruit juice.

I was on sliding scale insulin as my diabetes had gone haywire. Whenever my blood sugar went down, immediately there would be a cup of tea and sweet biscuits. All day and all night, the blood sugar would be monitored.

Oh, you will tell me, we have a Welfare State and we don’t pay for anything, but we do contribute indirectly, we do through taxes. There is no such thing as a free dinner, nobody gives something for nothing. Make us contribute directly, then maybe we’ll get value for money and a better health service, but I doubt if bedside manners will change though. Most of you know what I mean and that I am not talking through my hat. If we can afford booze and cigarettes, we should be able to contribute.

A physiotherapist came to ask me if I was living alone, if I can manage my shopping and if there were stairs in the flat. The dietician visited to sort out my insulin and I was advised to use a Flexipen with an insulin cartridge inside, much easier to use and could be carried anywhere just like a pen. Even the pharmacist came to check out my blood pressure tablets. Then I got a long discharge letter about the treatment I’ve had in hospital.

I’d urge anyone going abroad to take out a medical insurance for you don’t know in what kind of soup you might land in or face the fact that you will have to pay through your nose. I was ok.

Mona R.Babajee
S.R.N, D.O.N
London

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