#LuckyLinky Week 8
1st May 2017
Exploring our Homeland with Great Western Railway
3rd May 2017

NHS: Helpful Service or Judgmental Persecutors?

I definitely grew up in an NHS household. My mum was a nurse from the age of 18 and she worked in hospitals, care homes and on the community first as a day district nurse and then as a night sister before retiring early due to poor health. My nanny was also a receptionist at Poole hospital for over 30 years and my brother’s father was also a nurse and has worked his way up through the ranks, also at Poole hospital where the Bear now also works as an administrator. As you can see, I grew up (and still live) in quite a medical way and understood a lot more terminology and things just through listening and taking it all in – a fact my mother still finds amusing now. I have a huge appreciation for everything that the NHS does and massive respect for anyone that is a part of it. I have never really had a bad experience with them other than waiting times, which you can’t really complain about when you see the lack of support hospitals receive from the government.  We’re moving soon and we are all loathed to leave our doctor’s and find a new one as I can honestly say they are the best doctors I have ever come across and I’d happily stay with them for the rest of my life. Really, my title is misleading because the problem I have is not with the NHS but rather with one of the services the offer where in fact, no medical training is required…

a white background with a red wire leading to a red telephone handle

When you have children, you have to be ready for anything really – cuts, bruises, grazed knees, broken bones and all an old picture of an old fashioned nurse in uniform smiling at the camerasorts of things especially when you have little adventurers who have no sense of danger whatsoever. I carry a brilliant Daisy First Aid kit around with me in my baby bag (you can read all about them in Oopsy Daisy ) and I have done a First Aid course but sometimes nothing can prepare you – like “The Day She Almost Died” and I almost lost my little girl. It was my mother that saved her life and the wonderful ambulance and hospital staff that checked her over and made sure she was okay. They also helped me keep calm in what was a terribly frightening situation.

Recently we had another encounter with the NHS or rather the NHS and their 111 Direct telephone service that left an altogether different feeling in my mind than the appreciative one that was there previously. Alyssa and I were sat at the table doing some drawing together and my mum was walking around cleaning with a cloth and some Anti-bacterial spray. She popped out to the kitchen to get something and a few seconds later I got up and turned around to retrieve some more crayons and paper which tooka green nozzle with spray coming out of it me literally seconds. As I turned back round I saw and heard the sound of the anti-bacterial spray squirting and when I looked at Alyssa, it was in fact her that had sprayed it, whilst it was pointing towards her at eye level. My mum and popped out to rinse her cloth and left it on the table and I hadn’t noticed. I quickly whipped it away from Alyssa and switched it to off and grabbed some water wipes to wipe round her eye and face.

A few moments later, my mum came back into the room and we noticed that Alyssa’s eye was going red and there was a spray pattern across one side of her face where the product had obviously landed on her skin. I took her and with wild protests being yelled at me I rinsed her face whilst my mum checked the bottle. It was a non-bleach product and simply said to rinse thoroughly and wwoman's hand holding a blank screened phone with painted nailse knew what sensitive skin she had too. My mum had a good look and was pretty sure she was okay but we thought we would ring 111 just in case as it was a Sunday so our local doctors wouldn’t be open and we didn’t want to waste anyone’s time down at A & E. So I rang them just to get some advice.

I spoke to what sounded like a youngish man. He asked the standard entry questions and for my phone number so he could call back if we got cut off and checked no one was dying. I then explained what had happened.  He disappeared and I was on hold for 5 minutes. He then came back and asked me details about the spray and if there were certain things in it which there weren’t and he then put me on hold for another 6 or 7 minutes. During this time, the redness had gone from Alyangry man pointing at the camera with mouth openssa’s face and her eye had returned to normal and she was happily playing. He then came back on the phone and told me that I needed to continuously run water through her eye and down her face for twenty minutes making sure that it was running away from her face and to do this NOW. He could hear me moving and I was telling him I was doing this and he asked me 7 or 8 times if I was actually doing it or not – I am sure the screaming and shouting from Alyssa and the sound of the shower would have been evidence of this. He said it was just a precaution and to carry on doing this. He then put me on hold for another ten minutes.

When he returned, he checked I was still rinsing her eye, which again I said yes to and also told him that the redness had gone. His response was that it didn’t matter I had to keep rinsing and I was to go to A & E immediately (how am I meant to do both exactly!!) I was told where my nearest one was and that they were being informed that I was coming then I got “We are telling them you are coming. You are to be there within the next hour. If you aren’t we will be phoning you to ask why you haven’t taken her there.” Wow – okay I get she sprayed something in her eye, but it’s not like her leg is dropping off! Then I got”How did this happen anyway? Were you not watching her? Was she unsupervised?!” As a matta row of hospital beds that are all clean and ready all greyer of fact she was but kids can do anything in a split second which you would know if you had any. I explained calmly what had happened and I could hear him tapping away and felt judgement seeping down the line. “Well, go to A & E they are waiting or we shall be calling back in an hour.” I strangely thanked them and was gone.

We popped Alyssa in some pyjamas, popped an eye bandage on her from our Daisy Kit so she couldn’t rub it and headed to hospital. I sat in the back with tears streaming down my face whilst my mum drove and was panicking that I was going to arrive at the hospital and social services would be there to assess whether or not I was a fit mother and that all of  the doctors and nurses would be waiting there to judge me on what a terrible mother I was. Do you know what?! We got there and they didn’t even know we were coming. They didn’t know what the problem was and were completely clueless. We waited in the queue like every one else and were seen by a lovely triage nurse for assessment and then a nurse practitioner who said she was absolutely fine and if it looked sore later to drop in some ointment we were given and to go home and enjoy the rest of our Sunday and waved off with smiles.

doctors coat with stethoscope and pens in a pocket

I wish that we had actually either not bothered calling or just gone  down to A & E in the first place. Kids have accidents – yes we try and avoid them and do what we can to keep them safe but these things happen and it doesn’t mean we are bad parents. That young man at the end of the phone made me feel awful and like I was a bad parent who would be judged and tried for the heinous crime I had committed. I was spoken to as if I was stupid as things were repeated to me over and over again and again and I was warned of consequences if I didn’t complete their instructions to the letter – and yet nothing was add they had threatened. My mum had spent the entire journey trying to calm me and ensuring me that I was in fact a good parent and that the reason that young man had kept putting me on hold was because he had needed to ask for advice from a person who was actually medically trained as his script did not answer the questions he or I had. This is, I have to say, the first time I feel thoroughly let down by an NHS Service – yes I get that they needed to make sure my daughter was okay and it is what I wanted too but there was no need to treat me as if I was the suspect in a hideous crime against her and if i’d been allowed to get a word in edge ways I’d have been able to tell them properly what had happened before turning into a nervous wreck. Bad form guys, bad form. In future I will be cautious when using the 111 service and not allow myself to be intimidated and made to feel how I was here. Ideally I would like to either go to my Doctors or straight down to A & E where compassion and understanding are part of the job description., but as was pointed out to me by a reader, I would not want to encourage people to put pressure on an already heavily pressured service. I adore the NHS and will support them all the way and think it’s sad that there are individuals like this young man letting down their reputation. Fair enough child safety and protection are important but there are ways and ways of dealing with these situations and his wasn’t one I’d care to suffer again.
What’s your experience  of the NHS? Have you used the 111 direct service at all?


  1. That’s horrible that they were so judgmental on the phone – of course accidents can happen! You can’t watch your child 24 hours a day – there will times when you avert your attention just for a second and something happens. I bet that guy doesn’t have kids or he would understand. #ablogginggoodtime

  2. That is horrible! How dare he speak to you like that. I bet he was attending to other callers while you were on hold and quite possibly mixed your case up with someone else. You should write a letter of complaint. Really. Not only was he rude and judgemental, but incompetent too if the A&E didn’t even know you were coming. And why make you spend twenty minutes rinsing her eye if it was necessary to go to A&E. Surely getting to A&E should be a priority if you must ‘go now’! Ridiculous!

  3. Children will be children and accidents happen, you can’t watch them every single millisecond of the day! All’s weel that ends well! #ablogginggoodtime

  4. Anne says:

    I am totally indebted to the NHS, but just like you I’ve had some horrible experiences with the 111 line that I refuse to use it anymore. It’s so sad that he made you feel like a bad mother, things like this happen all the time. x

  5. We always say there are good & bad people in every profession.
    And it’s true you have to stand up, because you weren’t doing anything wrong!!

  6. Helen says:

    What a horrible experience – no one wants to or should feel judged! Unfortunately there are people like that everywhere though, fingers crossed if anyone needs to use the service again it would be a positive experience 🙂 #ablogginggoodtime

  7. Aleena Brown says:

    I have to say I’ve felt like this a few times with 111. The problem, as you highlighted, is that the staff taking the calls are not medically trained, so they have far less experience with kids and their wild ways than medical staff! I’ve used the service a couple of times for different reasons; it’s a weekend but doesn’t seem like an A&E type emergency, I think something loos worse than it actually is (rashes e.g.), or I think I’m doing the right thing but want advice to confirm this. Pretty much all of these times I have basically been met with ‘it doesn’t sound like an emergency so why are you calling?’ I feel like I have to justify that I’m not being neurotic! #ablogginggoodtime

  8. This is an education for me considering I live in the states

  9. Chloe says:

    I’ve experienced both sides… #ablogginggoodtime

  10. I’ve called the phone line a couple of times,once they were helpful and the other time they said phone the doctor. Plus they had to ask questions abuout ebola rather than actualy helping with the problem #ablogginggoodtime

  11. Like you I love my NHS. My experience of 111 has been varied but working in that industry I know they are following algorithms and eye pain in an adult or discomfort in a child is classed as an urgent referral. Sending you to a and e he had no choice about but he did have a choice about how he spoke to you. I’d like to think that this is hunan error on his part rather than an overall fault with 111. It’s such a shame you can’t offer direct feedback which can link back to the individual because of wouldn’t be surprised if other people have had similar problems with the same person. So glad your daughter is feeling better and it wasn’t anything more serious.
    Ps – never let anyone make you feel guilt for not having your eyes on your children every second of every day – anyone who thinks that is possible has obviously never had children ?

  12. Lucy At Home says:

    Urrrgh the 111 service is awful. Every time we’ve used it, they’ve either been really dismissive of the condition or made it sound fatal and commanded us to go directly to a&e. I love the NHS and I think the staff work really hard, but the phone lines are dreadful #ablogginggoodtime

    P.S. I’m glad Alyssa was okay

  13. Catherine says:

    What a rubbish experience! Not what you are looking for when you are in that situation! You should have been made to feel at ease rather than guilty!! #ablogginggoodtime

  14. Petite Words says:

    What a really hate about the NHS is the fact it’s not consistent. Someone might have a great experience in one area and then have a diabolic experience in another! That’s just not good. #ablogginggoodtime

  15. I’ve never had a great experience with the 111 service and have also had the whole ‘be at hospital within the hour, they are expecting you’ only to arrive and not be expected at all and be told there was absolutely no point me being there. I have the utmost respect for the NHS and think they need much more support, but the 111 service is useless. There have been far too many reports of children becoming seriously ill or even dying due to the wrong information being given because the problem doesn’t fit into the neat little script they are given to read. It’s about time it was either shut down or staffed by people who actually have medical knowledge and training. Sorry you went through such a traumatic experience with them, but glad Alyssa is ok x

  16. Helena says:

    We had excellent service when we phoned and all had the norovirus around November. It was the health visitors that have let us down here. #ablogginggoodtime

  17. Tammymum says:

    Oh gosh that isn’t nice to be made to feel like that. I suspect your mum is right and his script was limited. When Mark inhaled a poisonous chemical 111 sent an ambulance right away ( even though he could drive) he was Taken straight to A&E where he queue jumped a huge line to be seen (and told off by) the doctor. I think they take chemicals very seriously given their nature. Anyway I think a little more training wouldn’t hurt for some operatives as it doesn’t sound like a very pleasant call. I’m glad she is all ok though and ps you’re a fab parent xx #ablogginggoodtime

  18. That’s such a shame you were made to feel like that. They definitely have limited scripts I think! We’ve actually always had good experiences with 111 when we’ve rang for our daughter and like you I love the NHS. I used to be a press officer for a hospital so I know how much pressure they are under. #ablogginggoodtime xx

  19. I’ve got to agree, I’ve always found the phone service unhelpful. I’m so sorry for you that you were made to feel that way though, not what you need when you’re already worried. We all know how kids are!! #ablogginggoodtime

  20. When you’re worried about your child, judgement is the last thing you need. A couple of months ago Peachy tumbled over a box and got a nose bleed. I was immediately swamped with feelings of fear, panic, worry, and guilt. If someone had spoken to me in this way at that moment, I would have lost it. #ablogginggoodtime

  21. 111 is a good service in principle but the fact that a 16 year old kid can be there telling a worried parent, hell a worried anyone how to make someone better? its scary.
    I wish the NHS can be fixed and soon as it is something we cannot do without! #ablogginggoodtime

  22. Crummy Mummy says:

    The 111 service is totally useless in my experience – a complete waste of time! #ablogginggoodtime

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