This blog doesn’t normally consider the patient perspective, but instead mainly focuses on the workforce issues that the NHS faces But this hasn’t been a “normal” week and so please indulge me as I write about a personal patient experience
On Monday my daughter suffered an analphylatic reaction whilst at the childminders: my 4 year-old, who has a known nut allergy was given peanut butter for tea.
I wasn’t made aware that there was a problem or that the childminders had given her over twice the recommended limit of piriton until I picked her up at 5.30pm. When I saw the condition she was in, I screamed ‘I need to get her to a hospital now’ and flew out the house so quickly I forgot to pick up her shoes.
She was taken straight to A&E at the QE2 at Welwyn Garden City. My daughter was seen immediately, given steroids and in a short while we began to observed that she was reacting positively to the treatment.
We were advised that she was to be kept in for observations overnight. However, the Paediatric A&E Unit at the QE2 closes at 9pm. So, it was arranged that the St John Ambulance crew would transfer us to Lister Hospital in Stevenage (all part of the North & East Herts Hospital Group).
It was only after my daughter had gone to sleep and I’d made all the relevant phone calls that night that I really started to cry. The nurses sat me down, made a cup of tea and gave me a free sandwich. (I hadn’t eaten anything all evening). Something simple but I was so grateful.
I didn’t sleep much that night, but I was comfortable and comforted by the staff.
In the morning, we were greeted by Stacey, the enthusiastic play specialist. I was familiar with the role of a play specialist, but had never seen one “working on the floor”. I had been concerned about how I was going to keep my 4 year old entertained for 3 – 4 hours before ward round and hopefully discharge.
Stacey provided toys, arts and craft activities and generally made the environment bright, friendly and fun. Until that morning, I hadn’t realised how important the play specialist role is.
My daughter has made a brilliant recovery. On Wednesday she woke up and informed me that at “show and tell” today she was going to talk about her hospital visit. She wanted to tell her friends about how exciting it was travelling in an ambulance; about the fireworks collage she made; about Jamie the lovely staff nurse with the Finding Nemo badges; about how the hospital is like a hotel and you get to eat Weetabix for breakfast.
After a traumatic event, I was worried about the impact of suffering a severe analphylatic shock might leave on my daughter. This patient’s experience was positive and for that I’m grateful. It will help her recover both physically and mentally.
For me, the staff created an atmosphere of calm when I was in a state of chaos and panic. They communicated with me frequently and I felt fully informed as to what was happening. Each member of staff I met was considerate to my needs as well as my daughters. I noted that the staff asked sensitive and open questions about the situation. They offered a range of advice which left me feeling able to make informed decisions about the future care of my daughter.
So I want to thank the team at A&E North & East Herts Hospital and St Johns Ambulance for the wonderful service. Hopefully this won’t ever happen again, but if it should I have no doubts as to the quality of care that I’ll receive.
To me, this experience was an example of the NHS at its best.