A little while ago I wrote about poor old Barney, the lovely gentleman that has cleaned our office for 16 years. He had been taken into hospital when he'd been overwhelmed by the cancer he had so bravely been fighting. I wrote about how grim it was seeing him all anonymous and vulnerable, how they were calling him by his formal name of Robert and thinking he was unresponsive.
Last Monday we got a call from his sister to say he was being moved to a hospice. While this obviously means all hope of recovery has gone, the prospect of him being taken to somewhere a little less like Beruit provided some comfort. Some prospect of dignity being restored to a once very private man. We've walked onto the ward to find him all alone being sick and choking as he is so weak he can't swallow. Others visiting have found so few staff on the ward that calls for the toilet have to go unanswered. The nurses and doctors we've dealt with have been lovely, but there just obviously aren't enough of them.
But even though there is a bed waiting for Barney in the idyllic hospice, he's still stuck in that horrible ward almost a week later.
When you're dying surely hours are pretty significant never mind days.
Will there be an ambulance to take him tomorrow? Who knows. He's been meant to move tomorrow so many times already.
We can't put him in a taxi, he's still a big man and he's very weak and hooked up to oxygen and morphine etc.
When I'd been in casualty myself a few months back, the ambulance staff had said they were being cut back again and they didn't know how they could possibly get any leaner.
Non-emergency ambulance trips may not obviously save lives, but they can give someone a much better death.
No dogs in this story, but then dogs are treated with a lot more dignity than our old people these days.