Yesterday I got the call every mother dreads ‘Miss L’s been hurt in a playground accident, we’re a bit worried about concussion. Can you come and pick her up’. So I went roaring down to the school in a sick panic to find my girl in the school secretary’s office trying to be brave with her class assistant giving her a cuddle. As soon as I walked in she started shaking and crying and showed me her face which was hiding under an ice pack…..well it was awful. The side of her face was swollen and I could see the bruise starting to develop. Apparently a younger child had run into her during playtime, and she’d gone straight down onto the concrete playground face first. Miss L said it’d been so quick that she’d not had time to put her hands out to save herself, she was worrying that the little boy who’d run into her was ok – which he was thankfully.
The school suggested I take her to our local minor injuries centre to get her checked out, just in case she was concussed. I was in total agreement, so we saw a Nurse Practitioner who although was happy that she wasn’t concussed (and gave Miss L a cute Teddy Bear for being brave whilst having her bruise poked) was concerned that she’d broken her cheekbone and could I take her to an A&E?
Of course at that moment I went into a blind panic, while trying to appear calm to Miss L. The nurse gave me the choice of Hinchingbrooke (about to be the first NHS hospital to be taken over by a private company – it’s that bad!) or Addenbrookes. So I plumped for Addenbrookes, apart from the fact it’s a good hospital I had a vague recollection of their being a kids A&E there. I phoned Paul, he dropped everything and came with us and we drove over to Addenbrookes. One of the pains of living where we do is that you are 40-60 minutes away from any A&E or maternity facilities – nightmare if you’re in a hurry!
Now I spent 7 years in the NHS so I know the ropes, and I have to say while outwardly the main A&E entrance at Addenbrookes looks a bit like entering a refugee camp, it’s run very,very well. You wash you hands on entry, you’re seen by a Triage nurse instantly, then registered with reception. The lovely receptionist then sent us down to the Children’s A&E…..wow what an amazing idea.
There were toys to play with, books to read, a giant blackboard wall for them to draw on and CBBC on so they had something to take their minds off feeling ill. The nurses were incredibily nice – she was assessed within 10 minutes of getting into the unit and nothing was too much trouble. I was told that if Miss L’s condition changed while we were waiting I was to let her know immediately. We waited a bit to see the Paediatrician, about an hour but it was very busy as there were lots of children there (after school clubs are surprisingly dangerous places it seems!). But he and his student were excellent, they talked to Miss L and treated her with respect and as a person rather than a ‘thing’ which I’ve seen so many times before in various A&E’s when I’ve been in them.
He said she needed an X-Ray to check the cheek wasn’t broken, and that happened IN THE SAME UNIT within 20 minutes. The Radiologist was kind and gentle in what was a very scary experience for Miss L. We stood and watched the results instantly on the screen, they were then emailed to the Consultant who checked them. The Paediatrician came back within 20 minutes and she was released with a clean bill of health.
It was the best and fastest experience I’ve ever had in an A&E. The staff were kind, thoughtful and didn’t seem pissed off that they had patients and we were out within 3 hours. Children’s A&E’s are a great idea and something all large Trusts should be investing in. It doesn’t take much to do and makes a big difference to the experience of the ‘customer’. No one likes sitting in an A&E with a baby or small child crying, it’s stressful for the parent and stressful for other patients. Also having spent a couple of Saturday evenings in A&E you don’t want to be sitting with a sick child next to the drunk/drugged up walk in’s. I really think it’s a wonderful idea.
I’d really like to thank everyone we came into contact with yesterday for having been so kind and treating Miss L so well, you made a hard, scary day much easier. Addenbrookes should be proud of you all, you’re running a wonderful service.