It has been one of those exhausting weeks when my poor Fred has been struck down yet again by the nasty wheezy bronchiolitis bugs. This must be his seventh or eighth bout in a year, so I’m getting quite good at recognising the warning signs. Thankfully he seems on the mend, after two GP appointments, a middle of the night trip to the hospital for a nebuliser, steroids, antibiotics, inhaler and lots of Momma cuddles. I think we averaged about 4 hours sleep in 3 days. Poor bugger. Poor Momma. In fact, Momma is sitting in bed at 19.08 on a Wednesday, with a glass of wine.
Anyhow, what I really wanted to blog about was 111, and the complexities of answering their questions at silly o clock when worried. I think the general filtering idea of 111 is a good one for the NHS, but I can understand how people end up with an ambulance for indigestion. Everything is subjective; one persons 1 on the pain scale will be anothers 10. Having got through the routine reassurances that we hadn’t been on holiday to an Ebola or Malaria infected area in the past week, I explained that we’d been to the GP earlier in the day and Fred’s wheezing had got worse despite the inhaler and he was drawing his tummy in as he breathed. The operator put me through to a nurse, who wanted to know if he was as bad as he was in November when he was admitted to hospital. November seems a long time ago … I couldn’t really compare, but he was bad enough for me to phone. Was he struggling desperately for each breath? Desperately is open to interpretation; he wasn’t comfortable, but I thought desperately was too strong a description. Was I analysing too much at midnight? Now, I live 5minutes away from our local “hospital” or treatment centre as it’s now called. They have an MIU and Out of Hours GP service. Our nearest A&E is half an our away in the car. Having listened to my responses the operator, or rather the computer, advised I take Fred to A&E. I questioned this, as an appointment at Out of Hours would be nearer, therefore quicker … and a whole lot easier than driving a poorly baby on my own for half an hour in the middle of the night. “I don’t want to put your child at risk” said the rather sour woman on the other end of the phone … “Neither do I, so hurry up and make me an appointment” I retorted, now rather cross at her tone … it turns out, computer said no because I’d said he had worsened in the past hour. If I said he’d stayed the same, I could have an Out of Hours appointment. He’d stayed the same. Duh. Duh.
We went to Out of Hours and were seen within 10minutes; Fred was assessed, given a nebuliser, which really improved his airways – [before we’d have even arrived in Worcester] – and we were monitored for a couple of hours before we could go home to bed, and see our GP in the morning.
I am a huge supporter of the NHS, we are so lucky, and I will never complain about the service we have … but surely some common sense and logic could come into the 111 computer checklist? It really did seem a case of “computer says no” …