I am very grateful to have been treated free of charge by the NHS today in Cornwall. I had a really good experience, however I feel I should document some parts of the process which perhaps could be improved.
I dealt with a:
- day nurse at Bodmin Hospital
- ambulance paramedics
- nurse at Truro hospital
- doctor at Truro hospital
At every stage I iterated my symptoms and allergies and such. At each stage they seemed to have a different pile of paperwork and almost start from scratch each time. Perhaps they were checking what I said the previous X times, as I was afraid to say "why are you asking me again and again??!, don't you have the paperwork?" I suspect the information was not being effectively passed down the chain!
The South West Ambulance vehicle was surprisingly uncomfortable, despite being a 10 plate (2 years old) Mercedes. Thankfully the paramedics were really nice. Experiencing speed bumps in the back of ambulance was just crazy.
I'm not a medical expert but for detecting a heart attack the ECG machine seemed pretty important. I was on an ECG all the time except for at Truro hospital's A&E department, where I was on one momentarily before the machine was surprisingly trollied off to another patient.
I thought there should be an ECG machine at every bay in A&E, and they seem to lack any history. At first the ECG printout did look interesting, but by the time I got to the hospital the doctor didn't seem to have that print out. Surely it would be sensible for that entire history of the ECG throughout the day be available on an iPad or something?!
The A&E had some sort of queueing system on a large display in the staff area but the patients were oblivious to this. I spent 4 hours waiting for a blood test and chest X-ray, and some more time for a doctor to analyse the results I think. As a patient it's nice to know how long things might take. Luckily I just had some 3G coverage and some battery power so the 4+ hours of waiting were just about bearable, but there were no sockets or wireless Internet on offer.
Last but not least the hospital design seemed to suffer from SBS. Laying back on a trolley bed staring into white lights and ceiling tiles was nauseating in itself. The sound acoustics were discomforting and the curtains between bays felt ineffective. I don't know what the funding for this hospital is, but I thought it could definitely do with a thoughtful design upgrade.
As it turns out I'm perfectly healthy! So my initial Angina-like symptoms were a false alarm.
I'm very pleased and thankful for the NHS service, though I'm thinking of how to help them to make the experience feel a little smoother in the information age. :)