After I was hoisted onto the table/bed in the operating theatre – and for once, the hospital hoist team didn't muck it up – my surgeon decided I was lying a little bit too far down the bed for him to operate effectively. He wanted to slide me a few inches up the bed. He asked one of the theatre nurses to help him move me.
She said, "no, I won't. It is against our manual handling protocols. Call a wardsman."
Forty or fifty years ago, it would have been a case of "yes sir, no sir, three bags full sir". Doctors were gods, and nurses were there to do as they are told. Not any more.
The surgeon's reaction was just as interesting. He simply ignored her, turned to his male assistant (I think it was the anaesthetist), and said, "come on, we'll do it". Between them, they easily shifted me the few inches involved, no one was hurt, no backs done in, and the operation then went ahead.
Now, I have no idea whether the doctor's actions were permissible or not under the hospital's protocols for manual handling. I also have no idea whether that particular nurse may have been recovering from an illness and was on "light duties", or maybe just had a bad-hair day. To me, the interesting thing – well, two things really – was that nurses are now prepared to refuse tasks where they consider it necessary, and that doctors (the ones who were with me that day, at least) are prepared to do the task themselves and ignore the nurses.
I have to say, in all fairness, the vast majority of my experiences with nursing staff in hospitals are the exact opposite of the one I have just described. Hospital staff don't always know how to deal with wheelies, but in my experience they have always been willing for me to instruct them what to do and how to do it.
Still, the incident just goes to show how society, doctors, nurses, and their relationships to each other, have changed over the last half-century. Some of those changes benefit those of us in wheelchairs. On the other hand, sometimes I am not impressed with what I see ...