Everyone is here. There is an elderly gentleman, sitting resolutely without electric distractions and silently wishing he had a tablet to while away his sentence. Next to him sits a young Muslim couple, sharing TikToks and memes as they alternate glances at the clock. Opposite sits a mum and her young daughter, who she is desperately trying to keep entertained with a handbag full of tricks.
A moody teenager sits hunched over his phone refusing to meet anyone’s eye while his chatty mother makes friends with the other despairing parents. Then there is a young man, reading a book with the ferocious concentration of a university professor.
And lastly, there’s me, hunched over an overheated laptop on 8% battery, trying to squeeze in some work in between waiting rooms with an eight-hour wait time looming overhead.
Accident and emergency is the cornerstone of our public health system. The doors welcome everyone with patience and understanding, albeit tinged with frustration as understaffing and underfunding take their toll on each 24-hour cycle of care.