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Jane Bates: Why don’t people use the phone any more?

Finding time to send an email while coping with a ward full of demanding patients is a step too far for Jane Bates. 
phone

Finding time to send an email while coping with a ward full of demanding patients is a step too far for Jane Bates

Ping me an email. To most people, those four little words are quite innocuous, nothing to stir the soul or incite anyone to wrath. But to a nurse

Heres the scenario. I needed some urgent information about a patient and, silly me, I thought a phone call might suffice. But no, they wanted an email.

The ward was full, half a dozen people were simultaneously demanding my attention, and the only thing pinging was the last-straw button in my brain.

My answer was something between a growl and a bleat. Im clinical! I heard myself saying.

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Finding time to send an email while coping with a ward full of demanding patients is a step too far for Jane Bates

phone
Demands for a request to be sent in an email instead of via a simple phone call
proved exasperating for Jane Bates. Picture: iStock

‘Ping me an email’. To most people, those four little words are quite innocuous, nothing to stir the soul or incite anyone to wrath. But to a nurse…

Here’s the scenario. I needed some urgent information about a patient and, silly me, I thought a phone call might suffice. But no, they wanted an email.

The ward was full, half a dozen people were simultaneously demanding my attention, and the only thing ‘pinging’ was the last-straw button in my brain.

My answer was something between a growl and a bleat. ‘I’m clinical!’ I heard myself saying. How our non-clinical colleagues think we have the time or opportunity to send emails I have no idea.

In a hurry

First you have to find a computer that works, then wrestle the person using it to the ground. Then it demands you renew your password and wants you to update your personal details.

By which time the computer user you have momentarily incapacitated has recovered and is fighting back, the ward is in uproar because the only people on duty are trying to send emails, and that urgent information has been upgraded to critical.

You wouldn’t ask a soldier in battle, or a musician mid-performance or an athlete hurtling over a hurdle to send an email when they need something in a hurry. I called the powers-that-be to point this out.

‘Can you put it in an email?’ they said. See what I mean?


Jane Bates is an ophthalmic nurse in Hampshire 

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