NHS 111 Road Test

It happened rather suddenly, way too fast for my reactions to cope with. The scene is set in the garden. Pulling a rose sucker out with the left hand, let’s not argue that the damn thing should have been cut not pulled. The sucker suddenly let go allowing the significant potential energy stored in the left arm; A, to be turned in an acceleration force moving the left hand in the direction of the right hand; B at considerable speed. Unfortunately right hand B was holding a hand fork; prongs neatly aligned with the wrist of the left hand. A met B whereupon the potential energy transformed into kinetic energy allowing A to imbed itself onto one of the prongs of item B. I had indeed stabbed myself with a garden fork.

It was pretty obvious once the shock of the incident had subsided it was going to hurt like hell. I was not disappointed. Although not a fan of gardening procedures I was still, instantly, able to deduce this was far from  recommended practise. The process of lobbing the fork at full toss in the general direction of elsewhere – whilst uttering a diatribe in my best Anglo Saxon helped not at all. I was tit of the week and that’s all there was to be said.

The puncture, being the width of the left hand prong was not huge, but it was clear the unorthodox event was best avoided, at all cost. The throbbing wrist, the trickle of blood the embarrassment, the now lost fork all contrived to mask the real problem. How much of the good earth of Yorkshire had been injected into the wrist and were the tetanus jabs up to date? Good question, the answer was I hadn’t a clue. The history and status of ones tetanus shots is not something I tend to cast into the immediate access memory bank. Frankly it isn’t something I have previously given a lot of waking thought to. I needed reassurance that the impact of B into A had not wreaked  biological havoc beyond the initial trauma.

Sunday morning is logically best avoided as the time to conduct medical science. The people who know about tetanus are reading the Sunday supplements, at home, in the pub or on the beach. They do not form an orderly queue of peeps able to help. And so to my introduction to 111 the new National Health Service helpline telephone number. An easy number to remember; if it’s in use in your area, but unfortunately a little too close to room 101, the TV programme where celebrities discard their undesirable bête noir. The adverse publicity about the service is now legend so having to use it was approached with trepidation.

Three rings and the 111 was answered. This seemed odd…but we were immediately launched into the eponymous data protection act overkill needed to prevent some solicitor’s suing on your behalf. The t & c’s of the service were read out at high speed like the conditions of a radio advert, at which point I normally retune to another station. Room 101, sorry  NHS 111 was stacking up to an “all of our advisors are busy at the moment” announcement. But it didn’t. I was straight through to an advisor who reviewed the nature of the injury, my condition and recommend that I visit the A&E at the local hospital for antibiotics and a tetanus jab. Bingo, brilliant, slick, informative and reassuring in one three minute call.  In four I was en route to the hospital with my wife who similarly reassured, decided to vocalise the nature of my self- inflicted injury in a growing number of deprecating witticisms. My tit of the week accolade being significantly superseded.

At the A&E message boards were flashing four hours wait as a presumed positive. The triage nurse looked as my massive life threatening, pain generating puncture, with suitable distain and reaffirmed my tit of the week status. Five minutes later the clinical practitioner had cleaned the injury, stuck sutures and a plaster, whacked tetanus in the arm and sent me packing with some antibiotics. The whole visit was over in 45 minutes. Brilliant, from 111 to home in one easy movement. But luck was with me. The timing of the injury was critical. If you are going to stab yourself with a garden fork choose a Sunday morning at around 10:30 am after all the Saturday night drunks have gone home and before the Sunday morning sports injuries arrive. 10:30 is ideal for the Tit of the week brigade and we can reassure ourselves we have helped in some odd way to bring the average waiting time down.. ..

 

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