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…
When you have children, you have to be ready for anything really – cuts, bruises, grazed knees, broken bones and all sorts 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 took 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 we 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 Alyssa’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 matter 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.
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?