Christmas is a very busy time for us, Mr. Cratchit

With Christmas fast approaching, my social life gets hectic while my waistline increases as I shove mince pies in my face like there’s no tomorrow. In the meantime, the mortuary is noticeably busier and it’s becoming more important to look at what spaces we have- especially at weekends.

The mystery of why more people die in winter has been under debate for a long time. This news report from 2014 here as much as decides there is no reason for this phenomena because there are no distinguishable factors determining why a higher number of people die in the winter months. Interestingly, the ‘excess winter deaths’ are higher in warmer countries and lower in colder ones, however the reason for this is unknown and life expectancy can be similar between them. Also, the actual increase in deaths is unpredictable and can vary hugely year to year. While this could be put down to prevalent illnesses at these times, it’s not believed there is a correlation between, for example, flu outbreaks and the number of deaths.

There is a belief that people quite often ‘hold out’ for things like Christmas or important dates and essentially give up afterwards. The fact that a lot of the deaths around this time are due to terminal illnesses would imply that this could be the case. Mental illness is often thought to be a big issue around the festive season too, with social, financial and other pressures impacting people’s lives. There is a lot of support available to anyone experiencing mental health problems- I found this link where tips are given for coping through Christmas and charities like The Samaritans are always available to those that need help.

The care received in hospitals has also been thought to affect the death rate rise. Statistically, less experienced Doctors are not always available at weekends and during the holiday season such as reported here. However I wonder at how much these factors are looked at together rather than seen as failings of the NHS in the UK to provide care as is the case with a lot of the news articles I have seen. This did also seem to be a political issue of recent time so I will keep an eye out for anything published this year in regards to it. If you have any thoughts on this please do get in touch!

The past week’s activities to note included attending a meeting for the implementation of our new computer system. We met with the developers and discussed what our requirements were. You might think it strange that a newbie assistant gets to attend this kind of meeting, however I think they are using my skills from my previous job of being a change implementation technical expert in my financial sector role!

We were very busy with post-mortems this week and the APTs were kind as always to call me in if there was anything interesting to be seen. There was a skull which had previously been operated on and had two metal screw-like attachments which was fascinating to see.

We also had a moment where a visitor to the family room, where members of the public can visit their relatives, had lit up a cigarette. My manager had to rush in to remind them that it is a no smoking hospital before the smoke alarms went off. We experience all levels of grief and obviously are conscious that people grieve in their own ways so no animosity was present here. It was more the sheer panic of trying to not have to explain to the fire team that someone was smoking in the mortuary!

Next week I am only in work for three days because I’m cheekily taking two days off. More about this later as some exciting things are happening. Take care everyone, and have a great weekend!

MG x

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