[Update (Sept 3, 2016): I fully support the Junior Doctors past and proposed strike action even though it will probably mean appointments I have already been waiting for a long time will be put back yet again; among thousands of other people’s. It is all very well for Prime Minister, Theresa May and Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt to say we have more doctors than ever and the NHS is better funded than ever, but they are among the privileged classes who don’t have to wait months for an appointment or sit around in A & E for hours. Government ministers keep reminding us that the UK has an ageing population, but they clearly don’t have a clue as to how much stress that places on the NHS. As for the BMA (British Medical Association) apparently telling the Junior Doctors they should not strike, clearly it is in its best interest not to antagonise a Government more concerned with supporting the Establishment than the welfare of the ordinary man, woman and child in the street, for all our new Ms May's fine words to the contrary. Well, no surprises there. Politicians are hot on rhetoric, but when it comes to relating to the world as it is for ordinary people, the vast majority are cold fish.] - RNT
Now, all credit and thanks to hospital staff in the UK, they do a great job in what are often very stressful circumstances. (Too many patients and not enough staff to name but two.) Even so, I suspect there are few among us who haven’t had to endure a frustrating wait in A &E at some time or another in our lives.
Whatever, we would all do well to remember that our NHS is the envy of the world while those who abuse it should remember that it is not a free-for-all service, but paid for by those of us who pay into it all our working lives.
CASUALTIES OF CONTEMPORANEITY or LAST SEEN WATCHING THE CLOCK IN A & E
No losing heart over fortune or fame
only that someone call my name;
Might as well be the Invisible Man
for all anyone’s paying attention;
Hours pass, hands on a clock keen
to mock our growing impatience;
(Time, alas, holds little brief
From someone in the next chair,
an outpouring of despair;
on the other side, news of someone
who has just died;
A red-faced man creating a fuss
gets seen before the rest of us;
Mutterings of acrimony overtaken
by a drunk causing havoc;
Staff acting beyond call of duty
to end our panic;
A young woman in the front row,
wheel-chaired away, partner flapping
can’t help wondering, girl or boy?
from reasons we’re here, still waiting;
in pain, tearful...
fearful of things getting worse
in spite of reassurance...
from that nice blond nurse, ready smile
and eyes a lively green
fooling no one. Some leaving without
being seen, dare I risk it?
Could use a biscuit, a cup of tea too
and need the loo;
Ears prick up for a name, another,
pray be mine soon…
Just want to go home but hurt all over,
must stay, wait my turn
Copyright R. N. Taber 2004; 2016
[Note: An earlier version of this poem appears under the title 'Casualty' in 1st eds. of The Third Eye by R. N. Taber, Assembly Books, 2004; revised edition in e-format in preparation.]