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No calls please, we’re British

cov and warwick

On Saturday my mother fell over in the bathroom and she was not able to get up. Being 94, she has an alarm button on a necklace, that she can press for instant help. Being bloody minded, she doesn’t wear it. So she spent the next hour or so crawling the 20ft to her bedroom to get the necklace.

Bedroom reached and panic button pressed, the rest of the world swung into action. A passing paramedic came by, followed by two others in an ambulance, I was called by the council’s panic people (I’m sure they have a proper name, but it probably doesn’t mean so much), and soon she and I were off to A&E.

I wasn’t very optimistic about what was going to happen to us. We’ve all seen the national news about how hospital A&E departments in England are at breaking point at the moment. Two in the Midlands this week could not accept any more patients and one, in Stoke, according to a paramedic interviewed on TV, got to the point where it locked its doors.

At University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire there were people lining the A&E corridors on trolleys, (perfectly conscious, and not looking in a huge amount of pain, it has to be said, although we weren’t in the George Clooney part of the department) and the staff had that kind of controlled calm that you get in a place that is really, really busy. One of the doctors was gripping her hair, and pulling it up, up, up, as if it would make her think better.

I had expected that mum too would be on a trolley in a corridor, and was astonished when we were met by a nurse who knew all about her, and who had been told to take her to Room 18. (It was the nurse’s third day on the job and she had no idea where Room 18 was, but she was cheerful and bright and kind, and she found the correct little side-room in two ticks). Mum was X-rayed (broken hip); put into a hospital gown by two other nurses, one of them African (I point out his nationality because all nurses should have African accents, it is the kindest and jolliest voice in the world); given pain relief; and seen by an anaesthetist and an orthopaedic surgeon. Okay, so we had to wait around for several hours while this all happened, but it wasn’t much of stretch, especially not for mum, who once the morphine kicked in, started playing Candy Crush with the ceiling tiles. When she was taken up to the orthopaedic ward, I left for home, knowing that she was in kind and good hands.

In the last three days my mum has had her hip fixed, she’s been given a special vibrating bed to stop the build-up of any blood clots, she’s had physio-therapy, nice meals, and a handsome doctor blowing in her ear at 3 am (apparently it’s the standard way to wake someone up) to check her over. And nothing has she had to pay, except the National Insurance payments that she has contributed through her taxes, all through her working life.

The only quibble I have with all this is that she has a phone by her bed. And the company that installed had the bright idea of making all outgoing UK calls free (while charging a fortune to call in, mind). This is not a good idea, NHS people. Not with my mother. She has rung every single person she is related to.

Yesterday, when everybody else was probably unavailable due to ear exhaustion,  she rang me and asked me to bring in a pencil. As she was not wearing her hearing aids, you can imagine that the conversation that followed was rather difficult. Something on the lines of,

Her: ‘I’d like a pencil. You’ll find one in a jar on my table.’

Me: ‘But I can bring you a pencil from here.’

Her: ‘Cardboard? I don’t want cardboard. What are you talking about? ’

Me: ‘Pencils!’

Her: ‘Pencils, of course I want a pencil. I told you that. You’ll find one in the jar. I want to do the crossword.’

Me: ‘But I’ve got pencils here.’

Her: ‘That’s no good to me, is it, though? I need one here.’

She’s definitely on the mend. Thank you, NHS, you are a marvellous thing, and long may you continue. But, please, hide my mum’s telephone.


Picture via Creative Commons from http://www.geograph.org.uk

About elainecanham

I started blogging because I'm a writer, and I thought I ought to. Now I realise that I blog because I lwant to; even when I can't think of much to say. I do a lot of work for local businesses - get in touch if you like my style.


51 thoughts on “No calls please, we’re British

  1. Excellent brief story. Thanks for the witty deliver! 🙂 Best wishes, Aquileana 😀

    Posted by Aquileana | January 25, 2015, 2:39 pm
  2. Great tale, about a resilient lady. When my Mum was in hospital in London, there were charges for both outgoing and incoming calls. A card had to be bought in advance, and topped up. When Mum found out that they charged 40p a minute, both ways, she refused to use the phone, and told us to call the ward, and ask a nurse how she was.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Posted by beetleypete | January 16, 2015, 10:51 pm
  3. Here’s another thumbs up for the NHS. Oz has a reciprocal health agreement with the UK, so when my sister became ill in Wales, we took her to Nevill Hall Hospital in Abergavenny. They took one look at her in Triage and whipped her straight through – probably saved her life. The care she received in the following two weeks was outstanding – and free. And we’re not even British. If we’d been the US, she would have been bankrupt.

    Posted by helen meikle's scribblefest | January 16, 2015, 1:30 pm
  4. Thank god for the NHS. Every time I read of threats to it I’m incensed, thinking of its benefits compared to other health care systems around the world. My eldest daughter is a nurse, working in the NHS, and the job she and her colleagues do make me proud that such a system exists. I read a post just before yours, from someone in the USA, describing the nightmare of insurance during and after her husband’s treatment and compared it in my mind with our system. I don’t want to imagine there will ever be a time when it does not exist to serve.
    I’m glad your mum received good care and is on the mend.

    Posted by scottishmomus | January 15, 2015, 11:10 pm
  5. What a lovely, positive story – and told with such humour. I do hope your mother recovers well and swiftly.

    Posted by Jools | January 15, 2015, 4:55 pm
  6. Never let the austerity-minded folks take your universal health care service away (NHS). Oh but I wish we had something like it here in the States. Maybe in my children’s life-time. Doesn’t look like it will happen in mine. Best wishes for your mom, er, “mum”. 😉

    Posted by lbwoodgate | January 15, 2015, 4:34 pm
    • They’re not austerity minded; they’re small minded, Thatcherite ‘there is no such thing as society’, twerps. We do take it for granted, mind, and then we kick up a fuss when it starts creaking at the seams. Still, there is no politician suicidal enough to suggest doing away with it altogether – it’ll just get chipped away at, bit by bit.

      Posted by elainecanham | January 15, 2015, 10:36 pm
    • “Still, there is no politician suicidal enough to suggest doing away with it altogether – it’ll just get chipped away at, bit by bit.”

      Kind of like what some are doing here in the States to our Social Security benefits

      Posted by lbwoodgate | January 15, 2015, 11:04 pm
    • Keep fighting, Larry! Nil desperandum

      Posted by elainecanham | January 15, 2015, 11:36 pm
  7. I hope your Mum is back on her feet soon. I keep hoping the powers that be will stop playing stupid with the NHS, because once it’s gone it will be too late to be sorry. Regards to your Mom and I hope she gets to whichever level…

    Posted by olganm | January 15, 2015, 9:23 am
  8. I know of a 93 year old lady that has just ended up in a ward for the elderly that are critical. Her daughter tells me that the ward is wonderful with amazing staff – the hospital? Stoke, of course!

    The NHS staff are incredible, no matter what their accent. Our problem is the puppeteers that pull the strings.

    Hope you mother pulls through the ordeal okay.

    Posted by Experienced Tutors | January 15, 2015, 12:31 am
  9. I’ve had continuous health insurance since 1 day old and I’ve never had my ear blown into at 3am by a handsome doctor. Where can I get one? Are there any left in the January sales?

    Posted by Tara Sparling | January 15, 2015, 12:13 am
  10. Your mother is one spunky 94-year-old. Wow. Good everything has gone well. ❤ ❤

    Posted by Let's CUT the Crap! | January 14, 2015, 10:22 pm
  11. BTW- we have the same problems here. You can sit in the ER for hours before you see one hair on George Clooney’s head.

    Posted by naptimethoughts | January 14, 2015, 8:01 pm
  12. My husbands Gram had Alzheimers disease, and therefore an in home nurse. She was from Kenya, and not only had the kindest voice, but was the most patient wonderful nurse I have ever known. She had to be, really, in order to answer the same question six thousand times in a row.
    I couldn’t do it, anyhow.
    I hope Mum is doing better, and the morphine is working. Looks like it is, seeing how chatty she’s feeling.

    Posted by naptimethoughts | January 14, 2015, 7:58 pm
  13. I agree about African voices. I had one from Nigeria, in the recovery ward. She was lovely. But I am incensed that I did not have a doctor blow in my ear. Should I complain? Glad yer ma is on the road to being a right pain…oh, it’ll be all coil when she comes out! Give’s a shout if you need anything I can do…x

    Posted by Jools | January 14, 2015, 5:28 pm
    • I think you’ll have to specify the being woken by doctor treatment if you go in again. They’ll put it on a little chart, and you’ll be able to pic out the doc you want from a special album…thanks for the offer, Jools, I’ll certainly let you know. x

      Posted by elainecanham | January 14, 2015, 5:38 pm
  14. I’m really sorry to her about your Mum’s hip.But, having said that, It could keep you in blogging material for a while.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

    Posted by davidprosser | January 14, 2015, 4:49 pm
  15. I recently had to go to A&E when my good ladies Mum got a bit forgetful ( she’s 84 ) and ended up with crazy sugar levels, ( she is diabetic ), Once again there was plenty of hanging around and trying to get a hot drink at 2am but the general mood was patient and the staff were always polite and well meaning. It may not be the best experience of medical assistance but its a long way from being the worst and it is free.

    Posted by Peter Wells aka Countingducks | January 14, 2015, 4:19 pm
  16. haha wonderful! It is what all my children fear of me. I like the necklace idea as opposed to their suggestion of an ankle monitor.

    Posted by ZQ (R.K. Garon) | January 14, 2015, 3:37 pm
  17. Lol. Hope your Mum is out of hospital soon – for both your sakes.


    Posted by Loretta Livingstone | January 14, 2015, 3:35 pm
  18. Reminds me of my grandmother. Hope she recovers quickly.

    Posted by Charles Yallowitz | January 14, 2015, 3:35 pm
  19. Great story (except the reason behind it, of course) and lovely to hear such positive things said about the NHS. My favourite line:
    “especially not for mum, who once the morphine kicked in, started playing Candy Crush with the ceiling tiles.” – Genius!

    Posted by Dylan Hearn | January 14, 2015, 3:26 pm
    • One of the first things she asked me to do was to take in her iPad, because she thinks she’ll get plenty of time to get past Level 35 – it was obviously playing on her mind!

      Posted by elainecanham | January 14, 2015, 3:49 pm
  20. Mothers, hips and hearing aids? I know the feeling. Great to see a thumbs up for the NHS – our public health system in Ireland is a complete disaster, with the “trolley watch” numbers a running debate in parliament at the moment.

    Posted by Irish writer Mel Healy | January 14, 2015, 3:19 pm

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