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Nurses and ports

Having had a few spells in hospital in recent years, I wanted to mention the organised chaos that somehow works.

Hospitals are boring and there's little else to do but watch what's going on. The mornings in particular are interesting because they tend to be the busiest times.

You have six beds in a ward built for four, which leaves things a bit cramped to begin with. Then in come all the trolleys, along with the staff that operate them. Someone's pushing around a blood pressure machine, someone's pushing around a cabinet full of drugs with a big computer screen on top of it, someone's pushing around a breakfast trolley, someone's pushing around a cleaning unit. There's probably someone pushing around a commode too.

On top of that, nurses are moving hither and tither attending to the various needs of patients. Then the doctors come in — often in threes I've noticed — to pull curtains around people and give them news of the next horrific procedure they intend to perform.

It's not unusual to have ten staff on top of the six patients in a ward that can really only accommodate four beds.

At first glance it looks like absolute chaos, but a strange dance is taking place. It's like ten people trying to do a group tango in a telephone box. It seems impossible but when you watch closely it actually works. Somehow in such cramped conditions everyone avoids everyone else. It's difficult to see how they manage it and these wards must have Tardis-like properties.

But when you observe keenly you can see why it works: everyone knows exactly what they must be doing at any given moment. If nurse A needs to traverse the entire room with the drugs trolley, she somehow manages it despite all the paraphernalia in the way. There's a politeness borne of necessity and trolleys are pulled an inch or two one way of the other, without the need for nurse A to ask. The drugs trolley lithely makes it way across the room at a speed you just couldn't credit at first glance.

I think most people know it's the nurses that run the hospitals and, whilst their medical expertise is rightly credited, their talent for logistics impresses me just as much.

Now that we've Brexited there will apparently be hold-ups at ports with lorries queuing up, containers in the wrong places and ships in the Dominican Republic when they should be in Dover.

The government should hand the entire logistics exercise over to a bunch of nurses. They'd have it sorted out in no time and there'd be the added benefit of medical expertise at hand if someone drops a container on their foot.