Monday, 20 January 2014

Man Falls to his Death at JR

A man has died at the John Radcliffe Hospital, my old hospital, see: Somebody on the inside... whom I'd prefer not to name... has told me that the man fell from one of the indoor balconies built in the West Wing of the hospital which is part of the newest development on the site. This structure is dominated by a huge internal atrium covered by glass walls; and the landings built alongside the lift shafts have doors leading off to the floor levels, which are five storeys high, around ninety to a hundred feet; this is a standard architectural template used in several places by the NHS building and management contractor Carillion plc. The dead man was a psychiatric patient and so was vulnerable to unpredictable and irrational acts that might lead to self-harm. The problem is that the balconies I mention are lined by glass parapets about five feet high. Safe enough to prevent anybody accidentally falling, but in a hospital there's a major hazard that any people who fall from a great height will not do so accidentally... I warned them! I damn well warned them!... I said, they need to enclose those balconies by a floor-to-ceiling wall to deter jumpers. How do I know? A psychology degree? A course in "architectural ergonomic humanistic development coordination", or whatever it's called these days?... No, just having to drag people off ward window sills over and over again for twenty-three years!

This is not the first time a mistake like this has been made. Way back in 1986, before even I joined the Hospital Portering Service, the new cardiac centre was constructed at the hosptial and a debacle ensued that has become a part of the JR's folk history. The lifts were too small for the hospital's beds... amazing isn't it? But nobody noticed this until they actually built the place and tried to get a bed into one of them. However when the blueprints for the facility were originally published we, the Porters, looked at them and told the planning committee that we were concerned about the size of the lifts as they appeared on the design. We recommended a consultation with the architects to decide whether they needed altering to make sure they were compatible with out bed fleet. The committee refused to speak to us; where's Howard Roark when you need him!? As a result, the building was thrown up according to the original plans and, lo and behold!?... The beds wouldn't fit into the lifts... exactly as we'd predicted! The hospital had no choice but to remove the lifts, demolish part of what had already been constructed and rebuild it differently. This involved major alterations to the entire structure which cost several hundred thousand pounds. This was slightly easier and cheaper than replacing the entire fleet of beds. The hospital tried to claim on their insurance, but unfortunately their premiums were not high enough to cover them against their own stupidity... but at least this time nobody lost their life. Obviously this ridiculous and wasteful farce could have been avoided easily in the planning stages, if they'd condescended to listen to those who knew. The moral of this story is: Always listen to Hospital Porters! It will save you a hell of a lot of money... and it might even save lives!

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