HAVING taken a bit of a tumble over the weekend, we here at WWN found ourselves in our local A&E department this morning after our GP took a look at our swollen arm and referred us for an X-ray to make sure nothing was broken. A routine examination, we were assured. Nothing that would take too long.
Sitting in the sterile, cold environment of A&E with dozens of sick people of all ages, we browsed through our phone looking at the news while waiting to be called. Minutes turned into hours, and we grew anxious that we would not be able to make it back to the office at the time we had said. Eager to gain some clarification on how much longer we would be waiting, we went to the desk and looked around for the clerk who we had spoken to earlier.
The desk was unattended, and there didn’t seem to be any staff walking around either. “Have you seen a doctor or a nurse lately?” we asked one elderly man who was sitting beside us. He did not speak, and stared ahead while ignoring us.
Emboldened by the throbbing pain in our arm, we decided to have a peak through the double-doors that lead from reception through to the ward itself. We expected it to be bustling with medical staff tending to the ill, but instead there was nothing; no nurses, no doctors, no patients. Rusty, spider-web strewn trolleys lined the corridor leading into the bowels of the hospital, where a dull, swishing sound could be heard.
Timidly, we made our way to the source of the noise. A veil of golden light streamed through the windows, illuminating the fog of dust in the air as we inched our way forward. The swishing noise grew and grew as we reached the corner, and as we turned we were met with the sight of a single old man, sweeping the floors with a worn down broom.
“Excuse us, sir”, we mumbled. “We’re looking for the A&E department, can you help us?”
“A&E? Ha, that takes me back,” cackled the old man. Never looking up from his broom.
“What do you mean, takes you back?” we asked.
“Well sonny, there hasn’t been an A&E in these parts for, well, it must be going on 20 years now,” he said, his brush removing nothing from the dusty ground.
“But sir, we said, we were referred here by our GP. The lady at the front desk told us that we would be seen to soon. We were told that we could get medical assistance here”.
“Ha ha,” he laughed.
“Is that what you were told, eh? Listen kid, why don’t you run on home now, there’s a good lad. There’s nothing for you here. Don’t ask questions that you don’t want the answers to”.
“But our arm, we think it’s broken”.
“Run along now,” he said. “While it’s still the least of your worries”.
We turned and went back to the waiting room, which was now empty. The front door was lying off its hinges, and as we walked out to the carpark we could see that the windows of the hospital were boarded up, some daubed in graffiti. Our car was the only one in the grass-covered car park, and dark clouds gathered in the sky above us as we got in and drove away as fast as we could.