I spent about four hours at Southmead Hospital in Bristol on Wednesday afternoon. My 90 year old mother-in-law is to have a toe amputated in a few weeks’ time. Don’t be shocked; it’s a fairly routine procedure and means that after months of pain and discomfort she should be pain free afterwards. My husband is an orthopaedic surgeon, but he obviously won’t be performing the procedure on his own mother.
When I wasn’t ferrying her between the different “gates” (yes, this brand new PFI hospital is designed a bit like an airport terminal) I had time to think about how there could be much streamlining of hospital systems for appointments as straightforward as my mother-in-law’s. I mean, why on earth did we need to spend four hours at the hospital? After all, we’d already spent a couple of hours there a few weeks earlier, seeing the Orthopaedic Consultant who was to recommend the amputation, and I’m now wondering why, having agreed to the operation at the time, my mother-in-law could not have completed the forms and had the bloods and X-ray taken then, instead of having to return this week. No doubt doctors, nurses and hospital administrators will tell me I have no idea and there’s no other way.
I hope it’s clear I’m not criticising any of the hospital staff who looked after us. They were all professional and kind, from the receptionist who told my mum-in-law she did not believe she was 90, to the lovely staff nurse who was not patronising towards her (as I’m afraid people can be with the elderly) to the auxiliary in the X-Ray Department who found her reading glasses on a waiting room chair and tried to find out where we’d gone so she could return them to us.