Welcome to February at Hackwriters
North - a sudden descent into the darklands of A&E brings surprising
'It was the champagne
that done it', the home help declared, and unfortunately I suspect it
I returned to Lincolnshire for my mother's eighty-second birthday. Each
birthday gets to be more precious than the last and although there are
times Joanna must and does quite wonder why she is 'hanging on' so long,
the flowers, the family gathering around her for celebrations must make
her feel it's worth it, at least for one day a year.
Sadly my elder sister gave her a glass of champagne. No harm done, but
there is always something that triggers a change in someone's health,
when you are a frail eighty-two your health is balanced very finely indeed
on a stack of slowly dissolving sugar cubes.
The following day Joanna looked terrible, she was sinking fast. An ambulance
was called and it arrived with astonishing swiftness.
Right away, if you are reading this in the USA or Nigeria or deepest darkest
Peru, you will know that once someone is taken to a British hospital you
might as well read the will and start flogging the antiques, she won't
be coming back. British hospitals have been compared to 18th century infested
institutions that Charles Dicken's would find abominable. Indeed, as I
write this hospitals in Scotland are closed to new patients as viruses
are sweeping through them, decimating staff and patients alike.
Well I have to report
that the Princess Diana hospital in Scartho, Grimsby is clean, friendly,
efficient, calm and welcoming. The staff are amenable, dedicated, the
ambulance brilliant and soothing and other than the lack of George Clooney
being there to hold Joanna's hand, you couldn't really ask for more.
It is comforting to know that the computers work, important documents
were quickly found for the A&E department, the senior cardiac nurse
efficient and the Doctors diagnosis was swift following blood and urine
tests. All of this done within four hours. OK, there were a stack of
people waiting on trolleys to be seen, but all of them had been assessed
and since this is A&E and triage is in play, heart conditions do
take precedence. You get the feeling that keeping people alive and listening
to to patients is important to them.
It was a very reassuring
family emergency and suddenly I can see why a eight-two year old woman
who has traveled all over the world would elect to live just three blocks
from a hospital like this. It is a measure of how much importance she
attaches to her continued existence, despite protests to the contrary.
It is testimony to a hospital that although once was considered under-par,
is now pretty proud of itself, working well and attracting humane staff
(as well as nearly 300 volunteers who help things go more smoothly).
So thanks Princess Diana Hospital, she's back home, on treatment and
on the road to recovery.
It is very easy
to knock British public services and yes, I have written up a completely
different experience at the Hammersmith A&E in London which was
a genuine nightmare and resulted in a twelve hour wait to see a doctor
with someone with suspected meningitis, but that is London. This is
Lincolnshire. If one hospital can cope and be civilised in a town not
exactly known for patient and civil behavior then it is possible elsewhere.
The UK is going through some pain right now and I know in London the
railway unions do seem to be blackmailing the public. There is also
a shortage of teachers and skilled people all over the place (except
lawyers). But being a public sector worker is hard. You are never going
to make a fortune and as a lecturer I know, you don't expect and have
never experienced quality management or thanks for devotion to duty.
In fact, the more I think of it, almost every public sector worker I
know is good at their job, dedicated and conscientious. But increasingly
they are faced with short term contracts, contracting holiday periods,
more paperwork, more monitoring and unprofessional management, usually
made up of people promoted simply because of their failure to do their
job well at a lower level. (This is standard practice in teaching as
far as I can see). Why doesn't education, hospitals and the railways
attract experienced MBA's? Wouldn't it be nice to think of someone with
an MBA being altruistic.
Goodwill has always
been the backbone of working in the public eye. Abuse it, you lose it
and a whole lot more besides. All the UK has ever needed was good management
and good motivation skills. Something is going right in Grimsby's hospital.
Maybe someone should bottle it and spread it around.
Hackwriters is in Nice this week - no the sun isn't shining there either.
We are back next week 15th
thought for Joanna aged 82.
The Mouse Who Would be King!
She was born in
1920 in India, near a then sleepy colonial Calcutta. She remembers much
of a very vivid and lively childhood there, growing up with five sisters
and a brother. Remembers then coming to England during the depression
in the depths of a cold winter. As she turned twenty most everything
she loved was being bombed to hell and somewhere in this rubble she
became an actress and by day a nurse. After the war she found herself
in quiet and safe Lincolnshire, married to Bob, businessman and racing
driver and safe at last. But anyone born in the colonies knows that
nowhere is ever home and wanderlust took over when her husband, my father,
died young. She went to live in Africa returning to the stage there,
her moment of glory in 'Showboat'. Then she tried Canada for a while,
being near her daughter, but Canada proved to be too cold. Now here
she is back in Lincolnshire, still thinking of what will happen next.
Update 4.02.2002 : she's on the mend, and making plans again. Jo thanks
many of you for writing in and wishing her well.
© Sam North 2002
If you want to join me for screenwriting development classes I'll be
in France in March and May. It will be fun and there are two types
of programmes, beginners and professionals. Be good to see you there.
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