2 Mar 2016

Fixing broken things

• Kids can fall over and break themselves in the flatest and safest-looking of back gardens.

• Falling over in long trousers keeps dirt and teeny tiny stones out the wound. Especially if said trousers do not, for some inexplicable reason, become damaged themselves.

• Pain levels and blood loss do not always correlate to the severity of the injury.

• A child who is chilled enough not to mind you making a coffee in a travel mug before transporting him to A&E would probably also have waited quite calmly while you packed a toothbrush, phone charger and clean knickers.

• Vomiting / pyrexial toddlers out-rank walking wounded pre-teens. Be prepared to wait. A Long Time.

• If 3 doctors all take a look at your broken kid and pass the buck to someone else, he's probably more broken than you first thought.

• A pack of cards is far more useful than an iPad.

• After not eating for 9 hours, a turkey and stuffing sandwich is the tastiest thing you've ever eaten.

• A reclining chair next to your kid's bed is preferable to not being next to him (or not sleeping) at all.

• Even if your kid has a gaping hole in only one of his knees, the surgeon will helpfully draw a big arrow in marker pen just above the big hole, just in case they forget which one they are fixing.

• If previously used to describe the demise of your friend's cat, the term being 'Put to sleep' can cause some anxiety.

• A kind smile and an explanation will relieve much of the anxiety.

• Teenagers cannot live without their phones and will therefore have had the foresight to pack a charger. Befriend a broken teenager nearby and ask to borrow his.

• He may be grumpy and bored witless after 5 days of hospitalisation himself, but your pleading look may win him over and open up dialogue - and chatting with a middle aged woman you have nothing in common with is better than being bored. If one of you has ever had a rugby injury and the other one has given birth naturally at least once, you can share gas and air stories. Common ground- you just have to want to find it, you know?

• When you are blessed enough to have an National Health Service which is free at the point of delivery you can get a broken child fixed without carrying a wallet. You can dialogue with 3 doctors, an anaesthetist, a pharmacist, several porters and an array of nursing staff from all over the hospital who will clean, bandage and operate on your kid for FREE.

• They will feed him (and sometimes you - if he's Nil By Mouth) without asking for insurance details or payment up front. They will wheel him to whichever department he needs to go to next without offering to gazump a vomiting toddler if you divulge your card details. They will hug your newly-fixed kid and wave goodbye without demanding a backhander for doing their job.

• Most people in the NHS do their job incredibly well under increasingly difficult circumstances. EVERYONE we interacted with this week at both Lydney's walk in centre and the Gwent was kind, professional and efficient (or as efficient as they could be under the circumstances; - after waiting for 5 hours to see the A&E doctor, the first words out her mouth after telling us her name were, 'I'm really sorry you've had to wait so long. I'm here on my own tonight.')

• When you google a hospital and the complaints procedure is in a more prominent position than the switchboard number, there's something very wrong with the system, the attitude of the users of that system, or both.

• Start today. Say thank you for a good service you've experienced. Or for the service that a friend or relative has received.

• If the service was poor, don't post about it on Facebook. Or whinge to the person behind you in Tesco. And don't shoot the messenger - the doctor already apologised for making us wait 5 hours. She's not happy about it either. Being rude to the people on the ground does not change anything. Invest a little more time and complain in writing to the Executive Director of whichever Trust was involved.

Write to your MP. Find out who it is and how they vote on issues that concern you here:

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Happy letter writing...
From a satisfied mother of a service user.

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