Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Our NHS - "You Don't Know What You've Got 'Til It's Gone"

As a second time parent to say I am more relaxed is an understatement. I'm more chilled, less fussed and certainly less fazed about the issues that as a first time parent would send me to the edge with worry and add to the sleepless nights. 

Well, last Friday night at 9.30pm we were alerted to a sound coming from Hector's bedroom that alarmed us to say the least. He had been in bed a couple of hours and when we settled him to sleep there was nothing to cause us concern about his behaviour. There was a ghastly sound coming from his bedroom. I went in to find my little baby gasping for breathe. His little face had a panicked look about it and between breathes was this terrible barking cough. I'll admit, I panicked. I was scared. He wouldn't stop coughing and his little chest was clearly struggling to take in air. We had to dial 999. In my 31 years of existence I'd never called 999 before. I explained the situation to the friendly call handler who informed us that an ambulance and trained paramedics were enroute. 

The paramedics arrived in quick time and within moments of them arriving in our front room they diagnosed Hector's cough and breathing as croup. Croup is an infection usually seen in late fall and winter — that causes inflammation and swelling in the airways just below the vocal cords. This makes breathing difficult and results in a harsh, barking cough that sounds (alarmingly!) like a seal , whilst Hector's thankfully was not a severe case it was one that was bad enough that it would require us to go straight to hospital for some steroids to open his airwaves. 

We were promptly whisked off to St. Peter's Hospital in Chertsey where we received excellent paediatric care.

In the ambulance I spoke to the lady paramedic who had helped comfort me in my moment of sheer panic, by this time it was 10.45pm. Her shift finished at 10. Her 12 hour shift finished 45 minutes ago and yet she was still with us and chances are wouldn't be home till gone midnight. We chatted whilst she monitored Hector and she told me that when she is on a 12 hour shift she is entitled to a 30 minute break UNPAID. Today she didn't get that 30 minute break as an emergency came in. I told her how I felt silly for calling 999 for croup and she proceeded to tell me that that day she had a call out to an elderly gentleman who claimed that he couldn't walk. When she arrived at the said gentleman's house he was able bodied enough to walk to the door to let her in. There was no emergency. His justification in calling 999 was so that they could pass him his cup of tea and his medication. To say I was stunned was an understatement. 

We got to the hospital where his medication was administered quickly and shortly after whilst being continually checked I had a peaceful sleeping baby again. The thing with croup is it can come on so quickly and the paramedics put my mind at rest that calling them really was the best thing to have done. 

So, today as the junior doctors in England strike I am struggling to see is the point that Jeremy Hunt is trying to make exactly? Yes I get that cutbacks need to be made, money doesn't grow on trees and I know that there is not an endless pot of money but with regards to the "increased numbers of deaths at the weekend debate" I would like to hear if anyone has ever needed emergency medical care but hasn't received it because someone was on their break or their shift was just about to finish? I very much doubt anyone ever has.

When we got discharged from St. Peter's we left with the necessary medicine and no bill and a baby who within 12 hours had made a full recovery. 

It was an eye opening sight and it got me thinking, are there actually any other services in any other walk of life where where you can walk in, get what you need fixed, walk out and not pay? I'm struggling to think.

These people, from the paramedics, to the pediatricians, to the surgeons to the secretaries, if we take away these people who commit their life to medicine and making people better, who miss their children's birthdays, who put off starting their own family as they don't have the time to think about it and those who sacrifice their own lives for other then we have no NHS.

The NHS is not a right it's a privilege and if we aren't careful we are going to lose these vital people that make it work. The NHS, it's bloody marvelous in fact and I really do not think that we give enough credit to everyone that makes the NHS what it really is, simply THE best service in the whole world, because what's that old saying? Oh yes, "you don't know what you've got till it's gone".

I want to say a huge thanks to the paramedics and Paediatric department at St Peter's, Chertsey, especially Paediatrician Amy who was just lovely, who helped us out, put our mind at rest and kept a jolly composition even at 2.30 am and to the paramedics, I hope you didn't get home too late.

Lots of love,

This Surrey Mummy x
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