"Poor information given for treating my baby"
Posted by Ms M Dunf (as ),
I wanted to share my story as I'm a true believer that you can't expect things to change if you don't flag when something is wrong
My experience involves feedback on both NHS24 and Queen Margaret Minor injuries.
First of all, I think the NHS is an amazing service that as a country, we're incredibly lucky to have access to. However my recent experience made me loose faith a little.
Twice I've been given what I feel to be poor/innaccurate information with respect to treating my baby son. The first time when I called to get advice on his eyes that were very gunky and green. After explaining that, I was told to bathe them regularly in sterile water. The issue got worse rather than better and in the days that followed I went to my doctor who said that I shouldn't have been told to bathe his eyes as he had conjunctivitis which needed drops. The doctor said bathing the eyes could have spread the infection and that anytime his eyes were green, to go straight to the doctor.
On the second occasion I called NHS24 for advice as my son woke up with a very swollen lip with a huge white blister on it. His nursery had experienced an outbreak of hand foot and mouth so I assumed that's what he had. I called NHS24 for advice, explaining the full story to an operator including my concerns it was hand foot and mouth. I was then put through to someone else who didn't seem to have the notes on that and was only aware that he had a swollen lip. I was advised to give my 11 month old son anti histamine to reduce the swelling. I asked what to give as I didn't know and I was told to check the back of the packet and give him what was suitable for his age. I asked about hand foot and mouth and was told they could only treat the symptoms I'd explained so couldn't talk to me about hand foot and mouth. I didn't have any anti histamine at home so had to go to the supermarket in the early morning to get them. I'm a single parent on my own. I didn't want to drag my son out in the cold so early when he was unwell so asked my dad to come to my house to look after my son whilst I went to the shops. On getting to there I discovered that there's no off the shelf anti histamine you can give to an infant. I called NHS24 back to explain and express my dissatisfaction and was given an out of hours doctors appointment for later that morning. This to me is totally unacceptable. Firstly because I was given poor advice, and secondly because I got my family member who is in their late 60's from their bed so I could go and buy medicine that wasn't even suitable for my baby.
On attending the out of hours appointment I was given cream for his lip and advised it was unlikely hand foot and mouth. I was happy enough with the service at the hospital but frustrated and disappointed with the advice from NHS24. It's worth noting that on getting to the hospital, the nurse didn't have the detail id explained (twice) to NHS24 and instead had notes saying I'd been referred by a pharmacist at the supermarket! Totally inaccurate.
The following week my son got ill again. He started waking from midnight on the Friday and woke crying multiple times each hour, then crying solidly for a further few hours. Nothing would console him other than me pacing the house holding him. He had a higher than normal temperature and I knew he wasn't right as he's not a baby who cries.
His nappies were fine and although he wasn't taking solid food, he was drinking his bottle. For that reason, I was reluctant to call NHS24 as knew they'd advise calpol and keeping an eye on him. However I know my baby and knew something was wrong. Also, following my previous experiences, I had no confidence or faith in the service.
I decided to take him to the Queen Margaret minor injuries to get him seen by an out of hours doctor. On arriving I was given a leaflet explaining I should have called NHS24. I explained why I didn't and was told that if o wanted my son seen it'd be at least 4 hours later. The whole conversation was frosty and it was made clear that I was inconveniencing them. Whilst I understand I didn't follow the process, I think under the circumstances it was understandable. I said I was unhappy with waiting 4 hours as he was clearly unwell and only an infant. The receptionist spoke to the nurse who agreed to triage my son. The nurse was very cold, unfriendly and didn't show any understanding or provide any reassurance. I'm guessing they were also peeved at my insistance on seeing someone. I felt very uncomfortable and was on the verge of tears as I'd been up all night and was very worried about my son. I understand the pressure and challenges NHS staff are under but I'm not a neurotic time waster and expect to be treated with respect and understanding.
The doctor looked at my son 20 minutes later and confirmed his ear was very red and he had an infection which needed penicillin. At this point I burst into tears - mainly due to relief as I knew something was wrong. I didn't feel listened to at all as part of that visit and felt really upset even after I left. I feel I was treated quite badly given I was clearly just a concerned mother who had an obviously poorly baby on her hands. The doctor was very kind and understanding when they diagnosed my son and when I was upset which I was grateful for.
Like I said at the start. I fully understand the challenges faced by the NHS and their teams and I appreciate that unfortunately there's a population of people who abuse the service m. However, I don't expect that to create cynicism for all patients. Every single patient should be treated in the right way and their issues and concerns listed to.
I wanted to take the time to provide this feedback as think that whilst it's a fantastic service, there's parts that feel quite broken.