Emergency Care, Family, Parenting

NHS – Never Hate (this) Service

Talk about returning from the holiday with a crash landing.

If you follow me on social media, you’ll be fully aware that little Rupert has been extremely poorly since our holiday in Spain. Actually, the bastard bug timed it perfectly, appearing on the morning of my husband’s 30th birthday. Nice one illness; you weren’t invited to the party douchebag.

The poor boy was so bad that from Friday-Monday he just laid on me 24/7. Sky high temperatures, raw throat, terrible tummy… Saturday was the lowest point. Due to his sore throat, Rupes stopped eating and drinking entirely. Scary for any child, let alone one that can out-eat most adults at a buffet. By midnight, his temperature was nearly in the 40’s and not responding to paracetamol or ibuprofen, so we scooted on down to Colchester General Hospital for a once over… I was bricking it by this stage, but also realised that bringing anxiety to the hospitals door wasn’t going to help anyone, least of all Rupert, so I kept my crap together and was probably calmer than I had been years! Weird.

Unless you’re completely oblivious to the outside world and don’t know about the challanges the NHS is facing, let me fill you in by telling you that the NHS is under massive strain at the moment. MASSIVE. Click here for a nice and brief run down on some of the causes of the strain (politics aside!) if you wish to read more. Colchester General Hospital has been getting the worst of all publicity over the last few years; I believe they are still under a special measures programme.

I understand the frustration that comes with long waits. Unfortunately this happens when a hospital is understaffed and has a catchment area population that is rapidly increasing on a weekly basis. No exaggeration here people, type into Google ‘Colchester population’ and you are met with links stating Colchester is a ‘Boom’ town. Research also shows that Colchester is the fastest growing town in the country. Estate Agent Temme English has said; “Great for the town in terms of the economic growth it brings, but the necessity for improvements to access and local services is also something that concerns local residents.”

Hmmm, indeed Temme, there is concern amongst us residents. Concern that is clearly ignored due to the amount of new build housing estates that are being built. And in terms of the hospital catchment area, that obviously doesn’t just stop at Colchester town itself, but anywhere with a Colchester postcode.

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Wow. That’s a lot of people!

Anyway, back to poor Colchester General Hospital, and more importantly, our experience of it on Saturday night. A night that was typically filled with lots of accidents and emergencies, and sadly by the sound of some staff discussions, many were caused by people being off their faces on booze and out of their trees on drugs.

We were seen by a nurse within 5 minutes of arrival. After taking a thorough history, she administered medicines to help make Rupert more comfortable and the help lower his temperature. She was the perfect paediatric nurse; patient, calm and personable. She engaged with Rupert fantastically and told him exactly what she was doing at every stage. To keep a toddler that chilled out is a skill I need to master!

We were put in a comfortable room and asked to syringe as much fluid into Rupert as possible. Not an easy task when he was refusing to swallow, but we manged to get a few ml’s into him. We waited approxiatemely 2 1/2 hours to see an A&E doctor, all the while we were checked on by the nurse, with observations being made on Rupes.

The doctor burst in, very apologetic, saying that he hates making children wait more than two hours. He has clearly had a hectic night but was fully focused on our case and listened to our story of events that led us coming into hospital. Once the doctor had an understanding of our situation, it was time for him to examine Rupert… who had fallen asleep on the bed. Typical, but at least he was comfortable enough to drift off I suppose – and it was 3am in the morning by now! We gently tried to rouse Rupert, however he didn’t take kindly to instruments being stuck in his ear, mouth, underarm and on his finger. In fact, he went berserk. It is this precise moment that I’ll be able to pin point the cause of his future doctor and/or hospital phobia.

It was  a good sign that he had the strength to have this meltdown. He also had the physical strength to push anybody or anything away, along with the energy to frantically implant his fingernails into my neck whilst desperately clinging onto me. He was petrified bless him, but once again, the doctor and nurse were trying their best to soothe both child and parents. The doctor thought this was the perfect time to point out that Rupert was rocking the ‘Boris Johnson Hair do’, which was a pearl of comedy in this otherwise fraut moment. Bravo, Doc.

Sadly there was nothing obvious for Rupert’s symptoms, so this meant we needed to be tranfered over to the Childrens Assessment Unit and prepare for further tests.

We were welcomed with smiles by the staff, and I can’t stress enough how informative and harmonious they were in dealing with us. The nurse that administered the numbing cream on Rupert’s hands and feet should be extremely proud of her achievement. I’m still baffled as to how she got it in situ with all of his kung-fu movements. Bubbles on standby for bloods; a great distraction for all! And a super selection of stickers for when the ordeal was over (I was kind of peeved I didn’t get one mind you, something like ‘well done for surviving your first parent health drama’)

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After all the tests, examinations and questions it was 8am and they were happy that the new doses of medicine were appropriate in controlling his temperature and that he would be fine to ride out this horrible virus at home. A follow up appointment was requested for our GP so he was still monitored, and we were sent home with a bag of drugs and the reassurance we could call the unit anytime.

I was seriously impressed. And I would like to thank all the staff members who were working the night shift and morning shift on the 28th-29th May 2016 in A&E and the Children’s Assessment Unit. You all deserve a mega gold star sticker, not just for the service you provided myself and my family, but for the the long hours, hard work and dedication you put into your job which ultimately, is purely for our benefit. I was somber seeing all the staff abuse posters dotted about and despairing when I overheard the manic shouting in the corridors. No-one should be subjected to this kind of anger, confrontation and hostility in their workplace, especially when their prime purpose is to help those in need. I understand that people can be agitated and out of sorts when they are in a hospital. It’s a uniquely disorienting environment where emotions can run high; pain, anxiety, life and death are at the forefront of this place… God knows, I’ve had my fair share of poor treatment over the last few years; but its no good hurling abuse to people who are trying their best to cure you. My bad experience was all because of one particular consultant, and if you ever find yourself in this situation, get a second opinion. You are entitled to one. Don’t blow your top at the first unsupecting staff member that comes your way. It will get you nowhere and ruin their already highly stressful shift. Yes, you may have had to wait a while to be seen, it’s not their fault. And if you are in any kind of pain or distress, calmly let someone know. I guarantee you will get help faster that way.

Most importantly, don’t taint everyone with the same brush. Statistically, Colchester General Hospital is meant to be one of the worst in the country; however please don’t judge the staff members by the hospital’s failures to meet government targets. Go in with an open mind and hopefully you’ll have the same level of service that we did. Stay polite and don’t lose your cool; I know it’s stressful but there’s no need to be an arsehole. Unless the doctor is an arsehole, then you’re allowed to be a little bit of an arsehole, in writing, to the complaints office.

Thanks again Colchester General Hospital; 5 * for Children’s Services. And for the toast and coffee!

I would like to hear of other people’s positive experiences, so please tell me your stories in the comments below. I want to keep this post as a positive, thankful one for our hospitals and healthcare professionals.

8 thoughts on “NHS – Never Hate (this) Service”

  1. Colchester hospital juno ward were amazing when I was in there giving birth on Friday. Got advice from them at 2am (and I know what that time of the morning feels like on a night shift! ) when I rang them again at 5.30 to let them know my waters had broke they told me what to monitor and call them back in an hour, at 6.30 we were told to come in and was given a room and midwife all to ourselves. The only down side was the 6 hours we had to wait for discharge papers but that will be because they’re so stretched on staff

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yes, the 2am night shift slump is a killer, nice one maternity staff for being on the ball! So pleased it went well for you Clare. Thinking of the labour and treatment is always a massive stress when your pregnant, so it’s lovely to hear that you were happy with the care you received.

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  2. I’ve also had good personal experiences with Colchester hospital – a few years back I had a severe chest infection that had gone on for four months and stupidly I didn’t get any help for it. One day I coughed really hard whilst leaning forward in bed and heard/felt a big pop sensation inside my torso followed by the most incredible pain. I rang nhs direct who told me to get down to a and e incase I’d broken a rib (“you might puncture a lung” – great thanks!!) and when I did they were amazing – that too was a Saturday but I was seen by a lovely nurse within half an hour who kept me calm and gave me pain killers, then straight on to a doctor who got me into X-ray for further examination. Another half hour or so and I was given the all clear and a bunch more pain killers to ease the ache as time went on (it was torn ligaments thankfully, not my actual ribs). Everyone was helpful, quick and did everything they could to help me. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That initial nurse assessment is the key isn’t it? Even if you have to wait longer to see the doctor or further tests, if the nurse understands the level of pain you’re in, they can make sure you’re more comfortable for the wait ahead.

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  3. Thank you to you for writing such a warm and honest interpretation of the service you received when your child was clearly unwell.
    It has been a pleasure for us to read and share with the staff – your kind words mean a lot to us all and keep us inspired in the difficult times that the media portray.
    We’re really pleased Rupert is doing well.
    Thank you once again.

    Urgent Care Division
    Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust

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    1. It’s the least I can do! Working in healthcare myself, I understand what a thankless job it can be at times. I simply can’t imagine what staff at the hospital are up against when it comes to workload and pressure.
      Thank you for reading and sharing amongst staff members. It’s nice to know my message has been received.

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  4. I agree..having spent two weekends at A E recently we was treated with the most care and respect I coud have wished for..very well done Colchester.🤗😇😇

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m a researcher at Oxford University, currently conducting a study about how and why people comment online about health services. If you, or any of the people commenting here are interested in finding out more, please get in touch, contact details below. Thanks!

    The INQUIRE project: Interviewing patients and the public who have used the internet to express their views about healthcare , or have read other people’s comments.

    • Have you ever read other people’s online comments or posts about their views or experiences of healthcare ?
    • Or perhaps you have posted or written about your own health or healthcare experiences online?
    • Are you 18 or over?

    We would like to find out more about how and why patients and members of the public have used the internet to express their views about healthcare , or read other people’s comments. We are interested in people’s use of a range of internet platforms e.g. Twitter, YouTube, blogs, health forums, patient feedback websites and NHS complaints forums

    If you have used the internet for this purpose, we would like to invite you to take part in an interview with one of our researchers. An interview will typically last between 45 minutes and one hour. A researcher could interview you at your home, or elsewhere if you prefer. Interviews may also take place by telephone or online if preferred.

    If you are interested and would like to find out more about what is involved please contact:
    Susan Kirkpatrick
    Email: susan.kirkpatrick@phc.ox.ac.uk

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