Outta hospital, but not out of the woods


My first overnight stay in hospital

I was admitted into Papworth Hospital just outside Cambridge last night in a long-planned overnight sleep study to try and get to the bottom of my sleep-and-mental-health-related problems. To summarise, the study showed I’m sleeping but not getting restful sleep, but the main issue is ‘anxiety-related fatigue’ rather than anything specific to the sorts of treatment they have at Papworth. So it’s back to our system’s underfunded mental health services.


Above is me wired-up for the sleep study

It wasn’t the easiest night of sleep of my life, but the nursing and care team around me were superb and utterly professional.

Such a shame then that the staff of the hospital are being failed both by those at the top of health service policy and also by the failure of central and local government to provide a decent public transport system and civic infrastructure for the place.

This wasn’t the first time I’d been to Papworth using public transport – the poorly served bus line by the Whippet firm that supposedly gives a fig leaf of ‘competition’ for buses in Cambridge – when in reality the arrangement means that those of us dependent on buses have to pay two sets of public transport fares if Stagecoach that has pretty much a monopoly in and around Cambridge, does not serve them. As Andy Campbell, the managing director of Stagecoach in Cambridge states, if a route does not make his firm money, then he won’t run the buses. Hence my various tweets through Puffles calling for the ‘no-nonsense nationalisation of the buses’ with the hashtag #CommissarPuffles to make the point.

On the way to hospital, I ended up forking out £30 for a taxi from Cambridge because the failure of Stagecoach and GoWhippet to provide an integrated public transport system meant I missed my connection – and the last bus from Cambridge to Papworth, the latter leaving on an hourly basis. (I waited for 2 hours for the bus to get me back today – not willing to fork out even more money for the journey back).

On being wired up

I was only expecting a handful of nodes to be attached to my head but as it turned out other parts of my body were wired up. I was also swabbed for MRSA on admission to the sleep ward too. Your movement is restricted with all of the things wired and stuck to you, wondering if this is the part they start downloading your thoughts.

At the same time I kept on reminding myself that the staff are all professionals and see people like me day-in-day-out. Any social conditioning about other people seeing you with next-to-no-clothes on goes out of the window. Arms and legs had to be wired up too – hence the guidance notes for patients on wearing loose clothing.

This also meant I was confined to the ward – I couldn’t go anywhere beyond my room other than the toilet. During the night I couldn’t even go there because I was wired up to the machines next to the bed. I had a conversation with one of the staff about the camera that would be filming me – which had become rapidly obsolete with the pace of technological change in recent times. With the new Papworth under construction at Addenbrooke’s the wards at Papworth that are really showing their age will soon be gone. I can’t pretend the room was suitable for a sleep clinic – I was one of a handful of patients being watched & studied. The walls were paper thin and my room backed onto a pathway where the conversations of staff were clearly audible. Again, not the fault of the staff but a result of years of underfunding and poor design.

On waiting till mid-afternoon for the consultant’s assessment

This was the bit that could have been done online or via Skype. I didn’t need to wait around in the hospital for this. By the time it was my turn to be seen, the last afternoon bus had gone, leaving me with a 2 hour wait to get the last bus back to Cambridge.

In the grand scheme of things, the *cause* of my sleep issues appears to be fatigue-anxiety related – thus mental health, rather than a sleep-specific condition that Papworth amongst other things specialises in. But at least it has eliminated one line of inquiry. Yet given how underfunded our mental health services are generally…exactly.

On…the buses

It’s hard to ignore them on my side of work given the schemes out for consultation with the Cambridge City Deal. The night before I went into hospital I filmed at the West Cambridge Local Liaison Forum for the Federation of Cambridge Residents’ Associations. I’m listing the videos in the playlist below.


It’s worth scrolling through the meeting on 26 Sept and also on 22 Sept just to get a feel not just for the strength of feeling but also the nature of the arguments that residents are making to city deal officials. The important vote is on 13 October where Cllrs Herbert, Bates and Burkitt have to vote on a whole host of schemes. Expect fireworks. Details of the meeting are at http://www.gccitydeal.co.uk/citydeal/events/start/13-10-2016/end/13-10-2016





One thought on “Outta hospital, but not out of the woods

  1. On the Papworth buses. Can’t help thinking a Papworth – Cambridge bus route improvement would be more use than spending millions trying to improve the Cambourne route which does at least have regular, frequent buses.

    Hope you find/are enabled to find more spoons soon. (Accepting state of health of NHS.)

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