Long Hours and Life or Death

I was talking to my mother on the phone this morning.

She’s just returned from a two night stay in hospital after collapsing in town.

She’s 91.

Fortunately, after undergoing a barrage of tests, there doesn’t seem to be any serious fundamental problem.

But she was talking about the hospital staff and how she couldn’t fault them and what long shifts they have and this has prompted me to write this post.

Because there’s something I can never understand about healthcare.

I think we can all agree that healthcare is one of the most important services available, if not the most important.

If you can think of a more important service, let me know.

So explain to me why, when it’s vital for workers in this field to be at their sharpest, as they are often making life or death decisions, and at their physical best in order to guarantee precision in surgery for example, do doctors and nurses often work ten hour shifts?

Your garagist doesn’t work a ten hour shift, so does that mean that repairing cars is more taxing than repairing humans?

In no other profession are there such long shifts, and yet in none of these professions is it so important not to make a mistake.

This is something I’ve never understood.

It’s an indication of the absurdity and mixed-up values of our modern world.

It seems to me that doctors’ and nurses’ hours ought to be shorter than other people’s in order to ensure that they can provide the best service possible, not longer than for anyone else.

After all, if you have to go to hospital, wouldn’t you like to know that the people overseeing your health are properly rested and in a fit mental and physical state to look after you properly?

I know I would.

But then, as Bob Dylan put it, “People are crazy and times are strange.”

May your life never become an endurance test!

Love

Richard

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