Ripping off the NHS patients

Here’s a thought.

As an in-patient, I was only able to access Internet services via the WiFi provider that the hospital partners with.

The 4G signal being somewhat patchy.

It is right, frankly, that neither the wider NHS, nor the Nottingham University NHS Trust/Nottingham City Hospital provides this kind of service.

They need to concentrate on their core activities.

But Internet services are fundamental, in this day and age: access to the Internet has even been judged a human right.

There needs to be a review of the current Internet Service Provider to patients at the Nottingham City Hospital.

WiFi Spark, ISP ripping off NHS patients

WiFi Spark, ISP ripping off hospital patients

WiFi Spark charge their captive market £6/day for an advertised download speed of 1Mb.

But hang on, VirginMedia charge me an equivalent £1.58/day for an actual download speed of 200Mb (and 20Mb upload).

So WiFi Spark charge four times the price that VirginMedia charge, whilst the so-much-cheaper VirginMedia deliver a service that is actually 200 times faster than WiFi Spark promise to deliver?

Yes, so it would seem.

Anyway, because I had no alternative, I bit the exorbitant bullet and paid £9/day to WiFi Spark.

And yet never once, in that 24 hour period, did I get anything above 250Kb download.

Sometimes, I barely got over 100Kb download, and seldom got above 25Kb on the upload.

So the service levels that WiFi Spark advertise are nothing more than made up numbers?

So it would seem.

And let’s look at those prices.

Not an actual price of £6/day, but a true cost of £9/day for two devices.

And if you have three devices, then the true cost is £12/day (which doubles the advertised price).

£12/day for shockingly awful levels of service.

My phone tried to do an OS upgrade, and in 18 hours it still hadn’t downloaded the upgrade pack.

18 hours!

OK, so these are terrible levels of (paid through the nose) service, but that isn’t this point which has got me so (non-medically) inflamed.

That there is no alternative.

And presumably, because this has been allowed to continue, the NHS Trust that runs the hospital has never carried out a value-for-money service review?

I doubt it.

This is what has angered me.

A full service review needs to happen, else the patients are just going to continue getting ripped off.

And ripping off a bunch of people who are not only captive, but who are seriously unwell, is beyond unethical.

It is a scandal.

Sheer Heart Attack: update 7

Friday 23rd September

Well, I guess this is the last update against this thread/category.

It’s now Friday and exactly one week, to the hour, that I began experiencing symptoms that would later be diagnosed as a heart attack.

I plead guilty to treating it all so very lightly, right up until 2.30am Wednesday, when I gave myself a stern talking to, and had a long hard think about things.

And about people.

I am humble and grateful for the care and attention that I received from the NHS during my unscheduled hospital stay.

I am equally humble and grateful for the care and attention that I have received from my nearest and dearest over the last week.

This has all been wonderful, brilliant, thought-provoking, and scary, scary, scary.

And I have much to think over.

Sheer Heart Attack: update 6

Thursday 22nd September

I’m home.

My right wrist hurts like hell from the pressure clamp (even though the clamp was removed late yesterday afternoon).

The list of restrictions is longer because of the wrist thing, than because of the heart attack thing.


The heart attack restrictions are simple. Don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t drive, don’t ride motorbikes, don’t work.

The wrist restrictions runs to pages, and all involve not doing things that one normally does with one’s right hand.

Flushing the toilet is even on the list.

So to is doing the washing up.

And gardening.

And DIY.


I am home.

Sitting on the settee, gazing longingly at the garage, and the lovely weather, and looking about me at all the jobs I could be doing around the house.

And being unable to do all of them.


But I am home!

I shall be bored out of my head in 3, 2, 1…

Sheer Heart Attack: update 5

Wednesday 21st September

After a few false starts the angiogram occurred at 09.00 today (Wednesday).

I got bumped off the surgery list a few times, to make way for proper ‘ambulance pulls up outside with blue lights flashing’ emergencies.

Yesterday lunchtime I was brought down from my ward to pre-op, prepped and ready to go, when there were two blue-light emergencies who bumped me back to this morning.

I’m not complaining.

If someone is strolling about their business in a shopping centre, and then they keel over with a heart attack, they obviously take precedence over me!


As I was saying.

I had my angiogram this morning.

It is amazing that this surgical procedure happens.

In a nutshell, they make a very small incision in one’s right wrist, insert a very long catheter-type tube in to the heart cavity, pump a small amount of dye in and view the results, in real-time, on a 58″ monitor.

And the patient is fully conscious throughout (but with a little injected help to assist with keeping calm).

Unfortunately I couldn’t see much of the display, because the angles weren’t favourable, but there was quite a lot of chat between the various folk in theatre, which was interesting.

The heart is fed by three arteries; one main and two subsidiaries, but they each have a key role to play.

My main artery and right-hand subsidiary were both fine and healthy, but my left artery had a tear in it.

Unfortunately, the human body being what it is, my blood cells were trying to stem the damage from this tear, and in so doing had narrowed the artery, and restricted the flow of blood.

Silly buggers.

After a bit of a chat, the surgeons decided that they would be able to fix things then and there.

So they did.

Through the catheter-like tube they inserted a tiny piece of metal (called a ‘stent’), and manoeuvred the stent in to position where the narrowing was occurring.

Then they inserted, in to the stent, a tiny balloon, which they inflated, pushing the stent in to the right size and shape  for the artery.

The balloon was then deflated and removed, and the stent was embedded in place.

Then they removed the catheter and stone me, I was done!

A plastic wrist-clamp was put on the incision, and tightened to a seriously painful level, to close the wound.

And I was wheeled back in to recovery, a repaired man.

The relief?

I can’t even begin to describe the relief.

At 2.30 this morning I had a massive self-inflicted knock-back.

It was an internal monologue, along the lines of Ian’s earlier comments, but with Sam’s words thrown in.

The bottom line is that I told myself that things have to change.

So I sit here on my ward bed, at 4pm on the day I have had, let’s be honest, heart surgery.

And I’m so lucky.

And grateful.

And I know these things.

I don’t know how my life is going to change, but there will undoubtedly be changes.

And if you want another person’s perspective to the last few days, Sam wrote a very touching blog post here.

Sheer Heart Attack: update 4

Monday 19th September

The morning started off usually, with the BP and temperature obs, followed by a cup of NHS-T (see what I did there?)

Breakfast, by the way, is a couple of weetabix and two rounds of toast.

And a handful of tablets that do various things to my blood and to my heart.

Until I have the angiogram nobody actually knows what damage (if any) has been done to my heart, what remedial action (if any) needs to occur, and how long I need to have for recuperation.

So I am unable to answer any of the usual questions to which people want answers.

And I include myself in that ‘people’ category.

The nurse I saw earlier from the cardigan cardiac rehabilitation unit said that I should expect to be signed off for up to four weeks.

This was obviously a shock, but then I realised that she – like me – doesn’t know what the specialist is likely to say; doesn’t know what my angiogram results will show.

Managing my expectations, obv.

A complicating administrative factor in all this hoo hah is that I haven’t yet registered with a GP practice local to home.

I’m still registered with one in Rugby.

So we are trying to get me transferred to a local GP while I’m still in hospital.

When I say ‘we’ I mean that Sam is helping; she came armed with many forms for me to fill in this evening.

In other news, I am bored.

More bored than I was yesterday.

I have spent much of the day reading helpful articles on ‘How to restore a classic motorbike’.

Sam’s Triumph 3TA might be in line for some long overdue remedial work, if it’s not too careful!

Anyway, boredom aside, let’s talk about the angiogram.

I have no idea when it’s going to happen.

It was hoped that I would have one today, but there have been emergency admissions over the weekend.

Yes, I know that I was an emergency admission on Friday, but these others have been severe emergency admissions.

Those folk who got admitted over the weekend haven’t been in the ‘not terribly emergency admissions’ category, such as I was.

So it is now Monday evening – fast approaching 9pm – and I’m ready for bed and ready for sleep.

Sam’s been to bother me again and it was lovely to see her, even though it has been less than 24 hours since I saw her last.

She amused me with cat anecdotes.

These are tales of the Rescue Kitties slaughtering most of the wildlife in the village and neighbouring farmland/countryside, last night.

Bless the cute little murdering darlings.

She says they miss me.

Miss me clearing up the corpses of the fallen critters, more like.

But I miss them.

I want to go home.

The cardiac rehab nurse, when she was here earlier, made me set goals.

Reduce my hours, work in a more controlled environment, work from home at least one day a week, lose some of the stress.

But the thing is any of those things would reduce the job that I do from what it is – from what I love doing – to something else.

Something smaller.

Something less fulfilling.

And I’m not sure if I want do a ‘less’ job.

Maybe, if I need to think about ‘managing’ my health better, just maybe it’s time to start thinking about working differently.

I don’t know what differently looks like.

Not yet.

But perhaps now is the time to start thinking about what it could look like.


Sheer Heart Attack: update 3

Sunday 18th September
I wake at 4am.

There’s a Bonnie Rait song that seems to have moved in to my head.

I could do with a hot chocolate but make do with a small bottle of water.

My work phone has some messages on it.

I consider emailing the recruitment consultant who has lined up two candidates for me to interview for a vacancy.

After thought, I decide not to.

There could be someone who might deputise for me.

We need to fill that vacant post, it’s getting urgent.

I plug my iPod in, in an attempt to evict the Bonnie Rait earworm.

No sex for four weeks!

No ZX10R for possibly the same amount of time!

And no work for who knows how long!

I would normally be devastated by any one of these, but to have to face up to all three at the same time?

That’s just cruel.

Oddly, the iPod seems to be laying a level of musical work over, but not quite masking Bonnie Rait.

I google who wrote ‘I Can’t Make You Love Me’ and am astounded to see it was co-written by Mike Reid.

But relieved to learn it wasn’t that Mike Reid.

Nor the other one.

Elbow has a good crack at driving the Bonnie Rait song out.

But I find myself wanting to wave my phone in the air and sing along to One Day Like This.

Probably not a good idea.

I have had a tremendous amount of good wishes from Twitter and FB.

Try to sleep.

Later in the morning I meet the Cardiac Registrar.

He lays it out for me.

I have had a heart attack (so all thought that I’d had a mere ‘warning’, or had a vagina angina attack have been put to bed).

It wasn’t a ‘lucky to be alive’ heart attack though; it was less serious than that.

So on Monday (or on Tuesday, or on Wednesday – depending on backlogs and things) I’m going to have an angiogram.

And if they find heart damage that needs attention, I will also have an angioplasty.

And then, probably the next day, they’ll let me go home.

How long I stay at home (which means how long I have to rest, and how long before I can drive), will be determined by what the angiogram reveals.

There need to be questions asked about what I do about work in the long term, but right now I just want to get home.

Time passes.

Sam has been brilliant.

She came to see me again this afternoon, bringing many supplies and treats.

I don’t want the supplies and treats.

I just want to see her.

She still looks tired.

I want to go home.

I’m bored and I want my bed and I want my family and I want my cats.

I’m going to watch an episode of Buffy, then I’ll shower, watch a film, have my 10pm meds and then try to sleep.

Sleep isn’t coming as easily as it could.

Sheer Heart Attack: update 2

Saturday 17th September
After breakfast a cardiac specialist rocks up with a cardiac nurse.

They’re very jolly types and I immediately like them.

The last couple of heart traces have been good, but the blood test results weren’t brilliant.

I resist the urge to say I’ll try harder next time.

I’m going to be transferred to the Trent Cardiac Unit over at Nottingham City Hospital.

I’ll have more detailed tests there.

And an angiogram.

There may be an operation, if the angiogram finds things that need to be attended.

A couple of hours later I’m moved to Nottingham City Hospital.

The Trent Cardiac Unit is a totally different experience to Ward B at QMC.

For the better.

I text my Director to update her.

Her reply is full of concern.

There are other enquiring texts and voicemails from colleagues who knew that I’d gone home feeling unwell late on Friday morning.

I respond, but I’m wondering how and who I can get to cover the meetings I have on Monday if I’m not allowed home tomorrow?

Sam arrives with many things of goodness for me.

She’s spoiling me so much.

She looks tired.

A nurse arrives to check me in.

This procedure includes a test of my mental powers.

I don’t know if the purpose of the test is to see if I have any mental damage, or just to see if I’m an idiot.

I think I pass.

Later Sam and I go out for a walk around the hospital grounds and Oh My Goodness it’s so good to get out for some fresh air.

As we walk and talk I wonder where my Will is, and try to remember whether I’ve signed the latest version that arrived from my solicitor a few weeks ago.

Sam has been googling heart attack stuff.

She tells me how long I’m likely to be off work and frankly I am absolutely horrified.

She tells me how long it is before I’m likely to be allowed to ride the ZX10R and this news stuns me.

She tells me that I won’t be allowed to have sex for four weeks and the news devastates me.

Four weeks!

I may as well become a nun or something.

Later, during a nursing shift change, I ask about the angiogram that I’m due on Monday.

The incoming nurse expresses surprise.

She feels that it is more likely that I’ll be having the angiogram on Tuesday. Or possibly on Wednesday.

I begin to feel that time is slipping away from me.

Later Sam asks me if my situation could have been brought on by the hotel fire klaxon.

I’m not sure, but I do recall a prescient Facebook post I wrote after the alarm, whilst I was trying, unsuccessfully, to sleep again.

Sam goes home.

There are tears.

I fall asleep watching Live, Die, Repeat.

Sheer Heart Attack: update 1

Friday 16th September: 15.00
I’m put on a bay of four beds.

I learn very little about the three other occupants of the bay.

I’m concerned that the long list of things I must do at work, and concerned that the projects I’m running all need me.

The chest and arm pain fades in to the background, eventually fading away completely.

Sam comes back to the hospital after going home to do necessary tasks.

I’m given aspirin and blood pressure and temperature checks.

I feel fine.

The first doctor tells me that there will be another set of checks at 5.15pm (which is about 6 hours after the most recent and most painful attack).

He explains that this would be a decision point.

It’s possible I may be allowed home, when they read the results about 7pm.

I’m optimistic.

Sam sits in the chair next to my bed.

We talk.

We take the piss out of each other.

She can’t fool me.

I can see the worry in her eyes.

I play the fool.

It’s a role I’m comfortable playing.

5pm arrives, the tests are taken.

I feel so tired.

The hospital food seems to have escaped Jamie Oliver’s scrutiny, but I’m sure it has some kind of nutritional value.

8pm arrives, unlike my test results.

To try and expedite things, I hang around the office where the duty doctor does stuff.

He’s incredibly busy.

I feel guilty, but make sure he knows I’m loitering, before I go back to my bed.

About an hour later the doctor comes to see me.

The results have unfortunately shown signs that yes, there has been some serious cardiac-related activity.

They had thought it could have been angina.

But it seems that it was an actual heart attack.

I’m not allowed home.

Inside I feel crushed.

I want to go home.

I don’t want to be this heart attack person.

I want my home and my cats and my cuddles and my junk TV programmes and my books and my woman.

I get a night in the ward.

Sam goes home.

She doesn’t allow me to keep my work laptop, but at least I’ve got my work mobile phone, so I start to let people know the news.

About 1am I have some more blood pressure and temperature obs, and while she’s doing that, the duty nurse says I will be transferred to a specialist cardiac unit tomorrow.

Well that’s lovely.

I fall asleep watching Pitch Perfect 2 on my tablet.

Sheer Heart Attack: Background

This true story starts a few days ago, but is retrospectively included here for context

Thursday 15th September: 3am
The fire klaxon in my hotel room bangs me out of a peaceful state of sleep with such aggression that I find myself running around the hotel bedroom in circles, not knowing where I am.

The noise is so intense that I barely know who I am.

Heart pumping as if I’d just completed a massive sporting achievement, my brain begins to kick in.

I’m in Hothorpe House Hotel, on the second day of a course.

No, I don’t know why the fire klaxon is going off.

And why is it going off in my room?

And why is it SO FUCKING LOUD?

Despite the near debilitating assault on my ears, I pull some of my things together and throw on some clothes.

Outside it’s foggy.

I say it’s foggy because it is 3am on an English autumn morning, obv.

There is no smell of smoke in the air.

So it’s fog.

There are no fire marshalls either.

No people in friendly HiVis jackets.

Just a couple of other hotel guest-stragglers, wandering about.

Eventually someone appears, makes apologies, and we return to our rooms.

I’m still hyped up by the noise, and unable to sleep.

At breakfast at 7.30 my colleagues and I discuss the very shocking awakening.

The fire klaxon in every bedroom had gone off.

We wondered why there had to be a fire klaxon in every room when the fire klaxons were so debilitatingly loud.

Many hours later the course finishes and I drive home.

I feel unwell.

Nothing I can put my finger on.

And, let’s face it, I’m not exactly a sickly child.

I just know that I’m not right.

I go to bed early.

Friday 16th September:
The next morning I wake at the normal time.

I feel sick.


And I’m cold/clammy and sweaty.

I make it in to the bathroom but I don’t actually vomit.

Things settle down.

The nausea passes.

The world returns to normal.

I do the usual bathroom duties, but as I get dressed I start to experience a pain.

In my chest.

It’s not a sharp stabbing pain.

It’s a pressure inside me.

It builds and fades.

I feel a little short of breath.

The pressure builds again and my arms hurt.

Bizarrely, the little fingers on both hands tingle.

I sit on the bed for a moment, and the symptoms all pass to nothing.

I finish getting dressed.

A few hours later at work, the pressure builds again.

My arms hurt again.

My little fingers tingle again.

This amuses me.

The shortness of breath returns again.

There is an unwritten law that one should never google symptoms.

I google my symptoms.

I text Sam that I appear to be having a heart attack, and go in to a Very Important Meeting.

An hour later I check my phones.

Sam’s gone nuts with worry.

I take a minute to tell my Director that I’m not feeling well.

I’m deliberately vague about symptoms and my suspicions because it might not actually be that serious.

I just say I’m not feeling well and I’m going home.

At home Sam has left work at lunchtime.

I leave my car at the house, and she drives me to hospital.

An hour later I’ve been poked, prodded, had blood extracted, and I have been admitted to Nottingham’s QMC, as I seem to be actually having a heart attack.

Making tracks

On Friday evening I jollied down to Rockingham Racetrack.

I was scrutineered and safety briefed.

Then some bloke came along and pasted these stickers on the ZX10-R:

Rockingham race preparation

Rockingham race preparation

Rockingham is quite a small circuit.

The front straight is an easy wind-up to 140mph, and most of the corners on the back are a straightforward 100mph.

But I didn’t have sufficient tarmac to lift the Ninja out of 3rd.

It was a great evening, even though mental tiredness started to become a factor (I’ve had raging insomnia all week), and I started to lose the concentration I needed to have.

So I wound up earlier than planned.

But I still had lots of fun.

Lining up an overtake

Lining up an overtake

Overtaken him

Overtaken him