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An Unhappy Birthday

We have been amused by the notion of an UnBirthday as celebrated at The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party in Alice in Wonderland: a very merry unbirthday lyrics - Google Search

But there are some real birthdays which are less than happy:

‘They’re not coming to me because they know I am 100 and I’m not really worth it any more’. These are the words of Irene Silsby as she lay on the floor of her nursing home with a fractured pelvis, waiting for six hours before an ambulance came to take her to hospital.

We know little of the 100 years that she has lived before that dreadful day, but these words and the photograph which appeared in the national press bite deeply into our hearts. They will not be forgotten and we must be shamed to realise how poorly we have protected the services for the most vulnerable of older people: Woman waits six hours for ambulance after fall on her 100th birthday | NHS | The Guardian

We have seen the headlines and stories over a number of weeks as the ambulance service and A & E departments have admitted that they can no longer provide the sort of service they feel is appropriate when people are in crisis. The reasons are multiple, complex and interlinked. Covid has placed extraordinary strains on us as individuals and on services – more people are ill, more staff are ill or otherwise taken out of service. This is understood but there has to be a way to use what resources we have to make people comfortable and safe, to make it clear that they are valued and loved as one of us.

We cannot find refuge or excuse in a reflection on the numbers – this is not only a game of arithmetic. It is life and death, the experience of fear and pain.

We have to find resources that mean that such long waits are not necessary.

While waiting, there must be approaches which calm the fears and reduce the suffering of the individual and those who wait with them.

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