Readers of this blog may just remember that over three years ago I suffered a serious injury – a triple shoulder fracture – when I tripped and fell awkwardly on a rocky path on Tresco on the Isles of Scilly.
An accident 28 miles off mainland Britain is always a tricky problem – but mine was compounded by the failure of both a duty doctor and nurse at St Mary’s Hospital – the GP led hospital on the islands – to realise this had happened. It was never X rayed and both staff thought I had bruised and sprained my shoulder.
It was only when my wife made consult my own GP in Berkhamsted – a week after the accident- that I was sent off to Watford General Hospital who discovered I had been walking around with three broken bones – and the main bone between my shoulder and elbow had almost come out of its socket. Due to heroic efforts by one administrator at Watford they managed to find me a bed and I had a five-hour operation to put me back together. This I might say after physiotherapy is now 95 per cent back to normal. I have also been full of praise about the surgeon who did it,Andrew Irwin.
I put in two complaints to the NHS authorities in Isle of Scilly – one about the service – when I discovered the hospital had an X-ray machine but only a radiographer available for two hours a week. So bad luck if you had an accident outside Tuesday afternoon.
I also complained about the doctor’s failure to diagnose the problem – and got an apology and found the doctor had been sent for retraining to deal with accidents on the mainland.
Until today I had not heard anything positive about the paucity of X-ray services, only a rather defensive reaction saying that it was difficult to do anything. It certainly made me worried given the Isles of Scilly is a mecca for all sorts of sports from sailing, windsurfing,diving,rock climbing as well as great walking country.
Imagine my surprise to receive a communication through NHS Choices today to say the hospital has now replaced its ageing X-ray equipment with a new digital X ray – presumably allowing computer images to be sent to other major hospitals. It added: “Extending access to a radiographer is work in progress and is being looked into by the Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group and the Islands Health and Well Being Board. With regards to staff training, MIU training up-dates are provided twice a year by the MIU Lead. She will revisit limb examinations on her next visit. “
Well it may have taken over three years but I am glad that some action is being taken. To my mind it shows that it is worth complaining if the NHS fails to deliver – authorities do appear to take note, even if it takes time.