The Secret Life Of The Hospital Bed
Dr James Griffiths on the pressure of rising patient numbers and how we can help…
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