Wednesday 15 January 2014

How Exposed are You to the NHS? Are you a Natural Born Worrier Parent?

Touch wood, I have never suffered from medical negligence, at the hands of the NHS or otherwise, but given that I have only ever stayed in hospital firstly when I had my tonsils out (at about 8 years old) and secondly, when I had a C-section, the stats are probably stacked in my favour in terms of my limited exposure to the NHS.  I keep Aaron away from hospitals too if I can help it, as all it does is expose him to more germs than normal, so we only go there when absolutely necessary, which, when it is your first born, is worryingly slightly more often than technically required.  Thankfully we have a medic in the family, so we get excellent phone advice, that has meant a few possible trips have been avoided, once we have had fears about vomiting, diarhoea or temperatures alleviated. It's natural to worry, and we have put coats and boots on a few times, before we've then taken a step back and picked up the phone instead.

Despite being a worried first time Mum, chickenpox did not see us visiting our GP.  I braved it out, and gave my little man ALL my attention and lots of cuddles.  All of the illnesses that have seen him out of action for a few days have thankfully all been since I stopped working (due to redundancy).  The most stressful thing about a sick child is the worry of taking time off work, but you know what, once that worry is taken away, it just means you worry about them more, as you have the spare brain capacity and emotional capacity to do so.  When he's sick he just wants me, and that's what he gets.  

Actually, what was a lot more stressful than chickenpox was the Norovirus.  As it is HIGHLY contagious, this neither saw us going to the GP nor to the hospital.  Worryingly the NHS website says:
As there is no specific cure, you have to let it run its course, but it should not last more than a couple of days.
This would have got me worrying, as I think Aaron was sick for more like 4-5 days, but thankfully I was in constant contact with parents on Twitter during that time, so was reassured by their experiences so actually did NOT panic.

What impressed me was that normally when one person gets it the whole house comes down with it, but we washed our hands methodically and often with Carex and washed bedlinen every time there was an incident.  Both adults, me and Daddy escaped it and I did not take it for granted - I do, whenever possible, have a healthy attitude of gratitude.  Thankfully (see there it is again) Aaron was still in nappies.  I had been beating myself up at the time that he was not yet toilet trained but I said Hallelujah a few times under my breath during those days!!!!!  Hey and that is a reason to NEVER let yourself be down to your last 1-2-or-3.... a dose of Norovirus and you could need 5-7 in one night.

It won't have escaped your notice that I am quite an alternative medicine kind of girl.  This means that Aaron has reached the age of three and a half without having had a course of antibiotics.  Don't get me wrong, he has been prescribed them on three occasions but on all three I have managed to get him better without them - I would not advise this unless you have a good knowledge of alternative medicine and people close to you who can advise.  For example, on one occasion Aaron got better from an ear and eye infection without antibiotics (as you can see from that link it was a decision I thought about thoroughly).  That is my neglected other blog by the way!  I am glad to see that more and more info is coming out about our overuse of antibiotics as a society, and I do personally believe that they put our immune system back (as much as 6 months) hence the need to consume healthy bacteria afterwards.  Taking antibiotics for viral infections can do more harm than good!  

Back to the subject at hand.  The NHS.  I wouldn't be without it, but I do feel people run to A&E far more than they need to.  The solution, in my belief, is GPs that can give people sooner appointments and out of hours appointments that fit it with work, busy schedules, and meet the urgency required of the illness at hand - no point in an appointment after recovery! 

I have never experienced medical negligence personally, but I know my Granny in Ireland's death was caused by it.  This split the family in terms of their reactions to it.  I know it is not a popular view within the family but I do strongly believe it was her time to go.  I also have my Irish best friend whose son was 100% subjected to medical negligence.  Both the case and the trauma are ongoing.  In that case it was 100% ego that caused the negligence, where a Consultant did not like having advice given to him by a Nurse with his exact words being "you do your job and I'll do mine" - he took the wrong route just to spite her, and my friend and her son live with the consequences.  The medical arena is no place for an ego - don't they have some sort of oath that should guide them in their decisions?

A survey has been conducted, and I include below the questions and answers that I found of particular interest.

Do you personally know anyone who has experienced poor treatment at the hands of NHS staff? ONLY 29.40% said yes! Lower than the media would have you believe.  This statistic shocked me more though: a total of £22.7 billion - nearly one fifth of the health service’s annual budget - has had to be set aside to pay compensation to thousands of people harmed by poor care - would you consider suing if you felt you had received inadequate treatment? Only 45.20% (226 people) said yes!  No: 17.40% (87).  Not sure: 37.40% (187)... I KNOW that is nearly half, but if my nearest and dearest was harmed by negligence or poor care, I would be suing someone's ass! But perhaps it is the legislative HR Manager in me.  You can get the girl out of HR (employment law) but you can't get law out of the girl!!!!

If you are unsure as to the extent medical negligence can go to, or have no personal experience of it (that's a good thing) then read this: "Fatal Flaws" and you may understand (1) why people feel the need to sue and (2) why the NHS feels the need to put £22.7 billion to one-side.  That article is exhaustive and chronicles a 15 year campaign by a passionate bereaved father, so only read it when you have time on your side.

This question was of interest - I had BUPA throughout my 6 years as a Senior Manager (never once having used it): If you could afford to pay for private healthcare, instead of using the NHS, would you consider doing so? Yes 54.00% (270).  No 22.60% (113).  Not sure 23.40% (117)

I love this Guardian article where Cameron Hunt, London, makes the point that: "an increase in private healthcare ultimately damages the NHS due to the migration of personnel and resources".  Source: The Implications of Going Private!

So, I guess, my opinion is that the NHS is a God send, even though I avoid it wherever possible BUT the people within it need to be treated correctly (both staff and patients) and I personally feel that too much is wasted on (1) Senior Managers with no medical experience (2) Extensive/expensive IT projects that are subsequently abandoned (3) procurement that is done without due process to get the cheapest option and (4) payouts for compensation that could be avoided.  As stated above it now constitutes nearly one fifth of their annual budget - dear God!

What do you think?

This blog post is a PR collaboration, however all words and all opinions are my own.


  1. I think it's incredible that Aaron has got 3 1/2 without any antibiotics! Good for you. My youngest was pumped with them within hours of birth because I had strep B, but I avoid them when possible. I think the NHS saves lives but too much emphasis is placed on cure rather than prevention and there is no investment in good health because n-one makes any money out of that! X

  2. I was very tempted to sue the ass off of staff that missed the after labour problems then sent me home after i had given birth to D. I insisted something was missed, i described what i was feeling and i suspected i was going to bleed out. They didnt have the staff/beds/cash to let me stay and check it. I was sent home and i did indeed have something missed inside me, and had massive bleeding. If Blokey wasn't about, if he hadn't heard my screams i might have died. I fainted/passed out and he carried me downstairs. If he'd waited for an ambulance or taxi i might have "gone".

    Then the treatment i received traumatised me. It is a root cause of my bleeding phobia, & the needle phobia. These phobias are part of the breakdown, part of the reason i am "unfit for employment". The NHS made these issues awful rather than unpleasant. But i still love the NHS & they are now (finally) fixing these issues via therapists. Free to me, as i can't work, i can't afford a pay as you go shrink. So basically i still love the nhs BUT i hate the person who said not to listen to me after the labour, and the doctor who was rude and hurt me after being admitted back to the same ward, well i hope he's no longer working.


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