Sunday, 24 March 2013

Ten little fingers born in the NHS

Ten little fingers, ten little toes,
Two little ears and one little nose
Two little eyes that shine so bright
And one little mouth to kiss mother goodnight.
Children’s nursery rhyme.
A chilly but sunny afternoon at the beginning of March. Four happy children play in a back garden, shouting and laughing. It's tea time so the children come inside for a spot of toast and cake. One little girl leans on a door frame to take off her shoes. At the same time the door is slammed shut on to the middle finger of her right hand.

She shrieks, I run, open the door and see that the top joint of my beautiful perfect five year old girl has been amputated. Before I know what I am doing I shout to my friend to get us to A&E and hold the top joint onto the finger. My little girl screams and screams, we rush into a neighbour's car and within 10 minutes we are at Lewisham Hopsital's Children’s Emergency Department.

That was three weeks ago and those 10 minutes felt like an eternity. Beatrice fainted five times in the car and I was powerless to stop the horrible pain I knew she was in. I wanted to cry and scream myself but I knew I had to be strong. The soaring relief to arrive at the hospital was immense. We were seen immediately, Beatrice was given pain relief at which point she fell into a deep sleep and I was given reassurance by the fabulous nurses and doctors. We were transferred to St. Thomas' Hospital that evening, Beatrice had surgery the next morning and we were home again within 24 hours of the terrible injury taking place. Thank you Lewisham Hospital. If you hadn't been there it would have been an hour or more before Beatrice had pain relief and the care she needed to prevent her losing her finger. Long may you stay open for business.

Toby Tall, Toby Tall,

Where are you?

Here I am, here I am,
How do you do?

Children’s nursery rhyme.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, Lewisham Hospital is a successful, solvent healthcare provider. It's the kind of hospital that David Cameron promised to champion during the election campaign when he grandly pontificated: 'The NHS is safe in my hands'.
And yet, this fantastic hospital, full of caring doctors, nurses and sensible managers is scheduled for down-grade to bail out South London Healthcare Trust in a neighbouring London borough. As wrong as it is that the people of Woolwich are being penalised for the mismanagement and bumbling decision making of politicians it really shouldn't be Lewisham Hospital's responsibility to shoulder their burden.

Jeremy Hunt and the cabal at the Department of Health tell us that their hands are tied, there's nothing they can do, they must balance the books! Don't we know there's a massive deficit? Don't we understand that the NHS is simply too expensive? All of this while they wring their hands in horror that hundreds of people died at Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust because financial considerations were put before patient care. All of this while they promote David Nicholson who presided over Mid-Staffordshire while dead bodies were being stacked up in the morgues. And all of this while Jeremy Hunt clumsily claims to understand the clinical case for downgrading our public services. It certainly doesn't help build confidence that the Health Minister persists in clinging to the false statistic that the massive service reconfiguration in South-east London will save 100 lives. He's said it in parliament at least twice so one would assume he must be sure of his facts, especially when the entire cohort of Labour MPs from Lewisham called his assertion into question.

Even Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, NHS medical director, has tried to stop Jeremy embarrassing himself when he wrote a public letter  to distance himself from the wayward minister's gaffe. But, oh no, Jeremy bumbles on. He's even passed the misinformation to Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, who ineptly trotted it out at a People's Question Time held in the London borough of Lewisham. I wonder whether he'll listen to Jeremy again after the roasting he got from the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign?

Not only will the disastrous plans cobbled together by Trust Special Administrator Matthew Kershaw and his pals at McKinsey's and accepted by Jeremy Hunt definitely not save 100 lives, they will expose an entire borough of London to unacceptable risk. The plans fly in the face of patient care, health equality and take us back by a generation in maternity provision. I think it would be fair to say that David Cameron's pledge to keep the NHS safe is one made in pure fantasy.

One finger, one thumb
keep moving.
One finger, one thumb
keep moving.
We all stay merry and bright.
Children’s nursery rhyme.

Meanwhile Beatrice's finger continues to heal and I've been daydreaming about what I'd like to do with with my middle finger but I have to concede that this might not be the best way to negotiate with the Right Hon. Jeremy Hunt MP. Tempting though it is.

Friday, 22 March 2013

An update from Lewisham's maternity services committee

An upside to the otherwise irredeemably awful news that Jeremy Hunt, Health Secretary, has taken the axe to obstetric-led maternity services at Lewisham Hospital is that we have a really vibrant and enthusiastic committee at the moment. Five new mums have joined us and we have a record number of volunteers for our outreach programme called Walk the Patch.

This is one of the most important things we do as mums on the committee. Every month a volunteer visits the antenatal and postnatal wards to gather feedback from women who are currently using the service. This gives us a chance to understand the issues that women experience which in turn informs our agenda. It also allows us to meet and get to know the midwives so that we have a really strong working relationship at all levels in the hospital.

At our last meeting the staff from the hospital updated us on the refurbishment of the Labour ward which is taking place at the moment and is scheduled for completion by the end of May. The new Labour ward will replicate the very popular birth centre where possible so that women will be given the same attractive and high-quality environment in which to give birth. There will now be two rooms for low-risk women to use who aren't able to use the birth centre due to medical considerations that mean that they do not fit the criteria to use the midwife-led unit but are not considered too 'high-risk'. The mums of the MSLC have a date to visit the Labour ward to give advice about how to make the rooms attractive and comfortable.

This work is a commitment from the hospital to the women and families of Lewisham that the hospital is open for business as usual. The hospital has launched the Open for Business campaign to reassure the people of Lewisham that the hospital's services will continue to improve and serve maternity users and patients for the next three years and beyond.

Claire Champion, Director of Nursing, speaks about the upgrading of maternity services at Lewisham Hospital Lewisham Hospital Builds Trust

The MSLC has a diverse membership including a representative from the Lewisham refugee and migrant network. Many of the women in this group are living on roughly £30 a week to support them and their children which clearly means that some of the basics we take for granted are a serious struggle to buy. So, if you have any leftover nappies that your baby has grown out of or a cot that you don't want any more....anything at all really as long as it's in good condition and clean, please can you donate it to this marvellous centre who will pass it on to one of their families. The address is 144 Evelyn Street, Deptford, SE8 5DD. 020 8694 0323. The contact name is Margot Lawrence. If you are interested in finding out more about the group you can visit their website Lewisham Refugee and Migrant Network or you can find them on facebook.

To keep up with news and information please join Lewisham MSLC on facebook.

 If you are interested in joining the MSLC please contact Jessica Ormerod.