Monday, 1st April, 2024

[Day 1477]

Today when we awoke it was evidently the first of the month and I raced around making sure that all of our various appliances were being charged up before I update our planning board and then brought Meg her early morning cup of tea. Having got Meg up and myself showered, we were just at the point where the carers were due to turn up which they did promptly at 8.30am. They were two jolly ladies who we fairly quickly got Meg turned around and then brought downstairs on the lift and installed in her favourite armchair. Whilst chatting with them, they informed me that they could be deployed anywhere in the county (of Worcestershire) so the logistic of getting care coordinated at any semblance of the allocated time slot must be a nightmare. After we had breakfasted, although the day was a little gloomy, we knew that Waitrose was probably going to be open so we decided to give it a go. Seeing the motorised wheelchair outside the front door, we surmised that our regular friend might be there and indeed she was, soon to be joined by one of her other friends so the four of us spent more than a happy hour together in each other’s company. When out time was up, Meg and I scooted around the store to buy bits and bobs and I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Waitrose’s own porridge oats in a simple plastic bag only cost half the price of its market leader equivalents so we snaffled this up readily. On our way home, I decided to impulse to drop in on our close Italian friend who lives down the road. Very fortunately, she was in but just recovering from a bad bout of sciatica. As Meg was in the car, and to keep us all warm and comfortable, I invited our friend into the back of the car and so we could all a little chat in public. We have not seen our Italian friend for a week or so now, so we were delighted to be in contact again and ensured that we had a good ‘WhatsApp‘ contact so that we could arrange to have tea together. Our friend promised to bake us some fresh scones which we can with jam and cream when she calls round so this may well be a treat in store for next weekend all being well. I was explaining to our friend how I transported Meg from place to place in what I am calling our transit chair so we are all quite happy under these circumstances to meet in our house rather than elsewhere. I was just on the point of getting Meg through the door when a physiotherapist from the ReAblement team rang wondering about the equipment that the carer who called the other night had thought was essential. We had quite an extended chat and the physio and I eventually agreed that it was better for the physio to call here and see Meg in her own home and then work out what additional equipment was indicated rather than bring the equipment and then do the assessment. I honestly believe that it best to fit the equipment to Meg’s needs rather than making Meg to conform to the equipment so I think it is more sensible for us to do things this way round rather than to comply with the wishes of one particular carer (who we will now see for a couple of days, thankfully!) who tends to think equipment first. For lunch, we finished off the quasi-Christmas meal that we had yesterday, complemented with some primo cabbage but once again, made into a very tasty meal for us.

On the front page of today’s ‘Times‘ there was a really arresting story which broke through into the attention of the daily news programmed. The headline was ‘Long waits in A&E kill 250 people every week’ Of course, some of this rather sensationalist short hand reporting which makes it sound as though people are turning up to A&E and then dying in vast numbers which is of course not the case. But what is happening is that people who might have died shortly are having their deaths accelerated (i.e. brought forward in time) to when they would have died otherwise. The true basis of the figures is as follows. In 2023, there were 1.534 million emergency patients who waited 12 hours or more and of these 1 million were waiting to be admitted.According to the ‘Emergency Medicine Journal’ there was one excess death for every 72 patients who spent 8-12 hours in A&E. The risk of death grew after a wait of 5 hours and grew worse with longer waiting times. The College of Emergency Medicine estimated that there were 268 excess deaths a week were likely to have occurred last year. Even the concept of ‘waiting time’ has to be decoded because both Meg and I have experienced long waiting times in our hospital experiences. What actually happens is that one joins a queue, generally in a hospital corridor, and one leaves the queue to have things like X-rays, MRI scans, blood tests and the like. Eventually one rejoins the queue and one slowly progresses through the system until eventually the blessed relief of a hospital bed beckons some time in the future. It is true that one can experience a ‘wait’ of 12 hours or more but the wait is actually a process when one waits, then enters a queue, progresses along the queue and then exits the queue i.e. is admitted to a ward. I am not sure that I know the exact definition of how a ‘waiting time’ is absolutely calculated but is certainly true that one’s condition can worsen quite rapidly (e.g, septicaemia take hold) whilst progressing in the queue which evidently has to be monitored carefully by those in charge of the system. I would not want their job for, as they say, ‘all of the tea in China’