The Se­cret Life Of The Hos­pi­tal Bed

Dr James Grif­fiths on the pres­sure of ris­ing pa­tient num­bers and how we can help…

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NEW doc­u­men­tary The Se­cret Life of the Hos­pi­tal bed mon-thurs / bbc1 / 9.15am

They are the busiest beds in the busi­ness, so where bet­ter to start the new se­ries of BBC1’S The Se­cret Life of the Hos­pi­tal Bed than in A&E?

‘We see about 230 pa­tients a day,’ says Dr James Grif­fiths, con­sul­tant and clin­i­cal lead of the emer­gency de­part­ment at Barns­ley Hos­pi­tal. ‘From babies to peo­ple who are 100 years old, we see the full spec­trum and the num­bers just keep on go­ing up.’

The 10-part se­ries has cam­eras on beds in four dif­fer­ent hos­pi­tals: Barns­ley, The Queen El­iz­a­beth Hos­pi­tal in Birm­ing­ham, Le­ices­ter Royal In­fir­mary and Leeds Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal. We caught up with Dr Grif­fiths to dis­cuss the re­al­ity of life in the front line of the NHS...

How long have you worked at Barns­ley Hos­pi­tal?

I fin­ished my train­ing and be­came a con­sul­tant in 2011, and I’ve been clin­i­cal lead for the last 18 months.

Does your job make you worry about your own chil­dren more?

I am more aware of risks and have a greater aware­ness of how chil­dren could come to harm. At the same time you have to let them ex­pe­ri­ence stuff. You can’t wrap them in cot­ton wool; they have to go out into the world.

You treat an in­ter­est­ing case in the first episode, 42-year-old Michelle… A year ago she had a hor­rific ex­pe­ri­ence where she col­lapsed with a brain bleed on hol­i­day and was left be­cause no one knew she was there. She ended up hav­ing brain surgery and seemed to be pro­gress­ing. When we see her

in the first episode she’s got new neu­ro­log­i­cal symp­toms. We sus­pect an­other stroke, but her symp­toms ac­tu­ally im­prove [Michelle re­gains her speech, lit­er­ally, overnight].

An­other pa­tient you see is 84-yearold Fred. What brings him to A&E? Fred had fallen and tried to self care at home, but he reached the point where he was con­cerned about his wounds. Falls, es­pe­cially, in the el­derly pop­u­la­tion, are an in­creas­ingly large slice of our work.

You have a chat with Fred and put him at ease. Is that some­thing you feel you can do less and less?

If you’ve got a re­ally busy de­part­ment and the wait­ing time is go­ing up and up and you are try­ing to get pa­tients turned round quickly, you don’t al­ways have the lux­ury of time to re­ally un­der­stand what’s go­ing on.

Is the hos­pi­tal now under more pres­sure than ever? Ab­so­lutely. We’ve come through the worst win­ter the NHS has seen in living me­mory. The se­ries high­lights the pres­sures that all parts of the NHS are under, but I also hope it sends a mes­sage about how hard the doc­tors and nurses work for their pa­tients.

Can we do any­thing to help?

I am pas­sion­ate that peo­ple wear hel­mets on push­bikes. I see adults and chil­dren who come off their bikes with aw­ful head in­juries. If peo­ple could stop smok­ing that would be fan­tas­tic, and if they could drink a bit less, ex­er­cise more and watch what they’re eat­ing, that would be great.

What’s the best part of your job? Car­ing for pa­tients day in and day out and meet­ing re­ally in­ter­est­ing peo­ple like Michelle and Fred, who have got her own sto­ries to tell. It’s just a real priv­i­lege. Joanne Lowles the se­cret life of the hos­pi­tal bed Is PRE­VIEWED on PAGES 52-53

The se­ries sends a mes­sage about how hard

doc­tors and nurses work for

their pa­tients

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