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The International Writers Magazine
:Lifestyles in the UK

The Hell of British Hospitals
Kat Roberts

We’ve all had to deal with the trauma of a loved one becoming ill, or having an accident, everything becomes irrelevant except for the safety of that one person. This situation first happened to me new years day 2005.

‘Great way to start the year’ I hear you say, but who is thinking about what day it is when the life of someone you love is in your hands? An ambulance is called, and they are rushed, as if in fast forward mode, to a so-called hospital. You think ‘they will be safe here, everything will be sorted’, but when I entered this ‘hospital’, I felt a bigger sense of fear than ever. My beautiful boyfriend, strapped on to this bed-on-wheels, and left in a corridor, with more people strapped onto these beds-on-wheels, and there they wait. Whilst they wait, others are pushed past them, some flinching, some moaning, some deadly still, banging into each other as they’re wheeled past. Some people vomiting beside them, some holding the blood inside them with a tissue, and yet, whilst all this terror is happening, the employees of this hospital, those who earn a reasonable and sometimes large wage, stand around, joking, laughing, wandering past like they have something more important on their minds. One nurse leans on my boyfriend’s stretcher whilst screams out laughing with a colleague, causing the stretcher to bounce violently, move and shake slightly, whilst he attempts to sleep through this treacherous time.

I stand, mouth hanging open in disgust. Three hours sludge past; we still stand in this corridor of hell. A boy joins the queue of stretchers, he lies still, eyes closed, moaning slightly. ‘Overdose’ a round faced, cheery ambulance man says to another. The boy attempts to talk, a cry for help perhaps, a chorus of giggles and laughs come from the groups of paramedics standing around. They say they aren’t allowed to leave until their patient has been sent to a ward, so they wait, leaning up against the yellowy cold walls, joking about their new years resolutions to go on a diet and so on. Four hours gone and my boyfriend, who is perhaps more perky than the rest of us is pushed into a room no larger than shoe box, and now begins the waiting in the shoe box room. At least we’re out of the corridor from hell.

Two more hours pass, no one has entered the room since we were shoved in there. I see from the doorway nurses playing with the tinsel in each others hair, the same doctor walk past for the billionth time. I turn to see my boyfriend distressed, and his parents even more so. We leave for the night; we are told he will be put in a ward until the doctor can see him. This has been seven hours now; I think surely, how can this be reality? We sit watching on the news the utter panic and terror caused by the Tsunami around Asia and Africa, yet go five minutes down the road into a local hospital, there we see those severely injured, others lying unconscious or screaming out in sheer pain, but yet they stay waiting, waiting and waiting, until the doctors have the time to see them, yes of course hospitals can be a busy place, but leaving practically one doctor per 100 patients seems slightly unreasonable.

The next morning, after a sleepless night, my boyfriend returns, he spent five minutes with a doctor, and spent at entire night in a wasted hospital bed. I start to feel very sick.
© Kat Roberts Jan 2005

Kat Roberts is studying Creative Writing at Portsmouth University

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