12 MAY 1961, Page 15

H OSPITALS AND PATIENTS S llt—No one working in hospitals is complacent

or satisfied with things as they arc. I would, however, like Mrs. Catling to know that diagnosis is not al- W,aYs easy and that the right treatment must wait on diagnosis; this waiting may easily appear as delay and inconsiderateness to an anxious patient. , On Monday of last week soon after she went to bed my wife was struck with abdominal pain. This persisted through the night, and early in the morn- ing, well aware that no doctor can make an un- biased diagnosis in his own family, I called our general practitioner. After discussion we summoned a gYncologist, who arrived before breakfast, and shortly after my wife was admitted to hospital and kept under observation by him and my surgical c°11eague. It was not till 3 p.m. that the evidence Was sufficiently definite to allow a diagnosis of acute appendicitis to be made. As soon as an operating theatre was available, at 6.15 p.m., she had her acutely inflamed appendix removed. For thirty-five years I have been doing what I have been able to get improvements made in the hospitals where 1 have worked. In the days of the Voluntary Hospitals we knew why we had to wait for much-needed improvements: on one occasion We Were promised new theatre equipment from the Proceeds of the hospital fete; however, it rained all that day, and there were no proceeds, so we waited another year. In these days the reasons why we. wait may be less apparent, but if the nation wants a better hospital service it .will have to dip its hand deeper Into its pocket. We are awaiting the result of in- quiries into casualty services, but we know that what- ever recommendations they may suggest will take time to implement. Workers in hospitals are putting up with conditions that would not be tolerated in other walks of life, and usually with a good grace: they have to bear with the occasional patient who is rude or vulgar, or Whose personal habits are unspeakable, and make no Complaint; they have to take in their stride sudden rushes of work often with depleted staff. I find it difficult to believe that such an outburst as Mrs. Calling's