Yet Another Parenting Blog

The goings on of one more (mostly!) ordinary family

An overstretched NHS?

You don’t have to look very far amongst the daily headlines at the moment to see something about the NHS, usually reported in a negative light.

Our family as a whole have had various dealings with a few different local NHS services over the past few years. It’s safe to say, I’ve not visited a local hospital quite as much as since we started a family!

Today was one of those instances where I was at the local hospital with my eldest, for a routine appointment in the ENT department (or, as it appears it is now known, according to the rather posh looking new sign, the “ENT clinic” in the “Head & Neck Department”).

A few things really struck me today. It’s always seemed quite a busy department, though in my experience to date, Children’s A&E has always been busiest by quite a margin! Today, however, it was incredibly busy. Staff were rushed off their feet. I counted approximately 50 seats in the waiting room and all were taken, plus some patients in hospital wheelchairs, and a couple of people standing. Staff were trying to get people seen without too much delay. At one point, a nurse came out to apologise and explain there was a 45 minute delay as it had, unfortunately, been a particularly hectic morning.

Some patients were asking receptionists how much longer they needed to wait. They didn’t sound particularly rude, but needed to know for getting (back) to work on time, and similar reasons. The receptionists maintained their polite, cheerful, calm attitude.

One patient was complaining rather loudly about how it was “a disgrace” to have such a long delay, and other such exclamations. She tried to engage the person sitting next to her in conversation, but her complaints were met with brief grunts, before she directed her moans generally to anyone who may be listening. (No-one was, it seems; or, at least, no-one wanted to acknowledge her!)

Nurses and porters were dealing with many elderly and frail patients, and a rather fraught toddler, who all needed extra time and patience. All the time maintaining a calm, caring approach.

We were, indeed, called in 45 minutes after our appointment time, but each member of staff who dealt with us apologised. The doctor gave my son the time he needed to answer his questions (if you’re going to ask an autistic child, “So, how big is your school?” [not clarifying you’re referring to number of children rather than the building itself] you’re going to have to expect him to have a long think and a demonstration of physical size with his hands, before refining the question, “How many people are in your class, then?!”).

What can I conclude from today?

No-one likes to be delayed, particularly not when waiting in a busy, warm hospital waiting room. But the staff really were doing the best they could, giving patients the time each and every one of them deserved. Is the NHS overstretched? Maybe. But today demonstrated to us that the staff are not letting that affect the quality of care provided, and they’re doing an amazing job under a great deal of pressure, whilst maintaining a free-at-point-of-use service. I think that’s incredible!

I can’t help but wish that other lady in the waiting room could have cut them just a bit of slack, though!

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Parents in Pyjamas

Today, amongst all the more serious goings on in the world, one headline caught my eye. This one, about parents and carers being asked not to wear their pyjamas and slippers on the school run.

My first reaction was one of shock; I’ve never left the house in my nightwear, let alone for a school run. Part of the reason for this, is that I’d be far too embarrassed, and I’d rather not reveal myself in my pyjamas to anyone who isn’t my nearest and dearest. It would give them an awful fright, I’m sure!

My knee-jerk response was one of, if I can get myself, our autistic six year old and our two year old out of the house and to his (out-of-catchment) school early, with us all clean and fully dressed, why can’t anyone else?

Of course, like anything in life, it’s not that simple.

Having been mulling it over, there are a few things that occurred to me. For one, it’s a positive that, particularly in some deprived areas (as I’ve got no doubt this occurs all over the country), some of these children are even at school, regardless who brings them and what their attire.

What about those people who, for whatever reason, are about to snap under life pressures, and the fact they even got out of bed, let alone out of the house, is a massive achievement?

What about the mum who’s in an abusive relationship she feels she can’t leave, having just had a new baby, has no additional support, and is just trying to do right by her children getting them into school?

Of course, this is not excusing downright laziness, and if it’s a parent who has remained in their pyjamas for the sake of a few extra minutes in bed without good reason, then I find that harder to accept.

This is different to those who really cannot do anything other than get themselves out of the house in their pyjamas. I’ve been there; I’ve been that mum who is at the end of her tether, suffering with depression, who is living breath by breath and struggling just to keep myself alive. I know how difficult that is.

But at the end of the day, we’re all parents, doing what can be considered the toughest job in the world, and to some, wearing their pyjamas on the school run really isn’t a huge problem in the grand scheme of things.

That doesn’t mean you’ll see me in my pyjamas any time soon, though!

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