I gave this a try. Twice.
Agency X booked me for a whole day paying me a full day fee and I was asked to do four NHS bookings. All at the same location.
I arrived for the first booking only to find that the clinic appointments were overrunning by an hour. The appointment was expected to be short. It wasn’t. The client needed some very strong medication and the administration of this needed to be explained very carefully as if taken incorrectly, it would cause serious harm.
I left the clinic and went to the pharmacy with the patient who was understandably quite anxious. The wait at the pharmacy was expected to be over 45 minutes (this was a good day!). I was about to call Agency X to explain the situation, when they called me. They told me they had spoken to the clinic and were aware I had left. They wanted to know why I wasn’t at the second appointment yet. I explained the situation but I was asked to leave the patient in the pharmacy. I refused. It would have been highly unethical to leave someone to collect strong medication without knowing how and when to take it. I never made it to the second booking.
The third booking was due to start 30 minutes after I finally finished the first booking. There was no opportunity to have a proper break as I had to use that time finding a different department within the hospital and arriving in good time before the patient’s allocated appointment. The next two appointments were straight forward, but again, both clinics had long waiting times. With appointments running back to back in this way I did not stop working throughout the whole day, and with no space to reflect on the emotion of each assignment, I felt mentally exhausted.
Having put the first day down as an unlucky experience, I was there to go through a surgical procedure and get consent. The operation wouldn’t be until the next day. Again I was booked for multiple appointments.
When I arrived the patient was on a ward in distress. They hadn’t known what was going on and were scared. I was told I could sit in the staff room until the surgeon arrived but obviously wasn’t going to do this and sat and chatted to the patient to reassure them. Unfortunately the surgeon had been called to an emergency and would be delayed. Again, I was placed in a difficult situation.
I called the agency and explained that I was being asked to stay on the ward as I would be needed when the surgeon became available. They suggested I give my phone number to the ward and ask them to call me. However, I explained that this wasn’t possible as I couldn’t leave mid-way through another persons appointment! The surgeon finally arrived one hour after I was due to finish work for the day, resulting in being unable to interpret the two other scheduled appointments.
These are just two occasions and I could write about many others.
Health appointments can’t be rushed. There is too much risk involved and Deaf patients deserve a quality service. They won’t get this when interpreters are clock watching and worried about getting to the next appointment.