Opinion: Why my son's first trip to hospital left me feeling very, very lucky
PUBLISHED: 12:29 14 May 2019 | UPDATED: 12:29 14 May 2019
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Editor David Powles reflects on a weekend that went wrong - but left him in no doubt about the brilliance of our NHS.
The Easter bank holiday weekend had been going so well.
The sun was shining, we'd been able to get out in the garden to make a start on the seemingly never-ending list of jobs and the two boys were playing happily together.
Then, as I'm rapidly learning can often be the case when you have two young sprogs, events took an unexpected twist.
Our youngest managed to topple off a chair over lunch and somehow get his middle finger trapped between the side of it and the wall.
A large cut appeared, lots of blood, many more tears and what later turned out to be a small break caused by the crush.
All plans went out of the window as the next seven hours, as well as seven more on the Monday, were spent in various parts of the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital testing out their impressive variety of children's toy collections.
It's easy when in a situation like that to start feeling sorry for yourself and mourn the fact you are going to have to spend so much of your weekend in the place you'd least rather be.
But, as I quickly found out, there's nothing like a trip to hospital for a relatively minor matter to make you realise just how lucky you truly are.
That's because you're regularly confronted by people, many of them children sadly, going through much worse ordeals than yourselves. And all of the ones we met were still putting on a brave face, smiling and getting on with whatever personal battle it was they faced.
There's also nothing like a trip to hospital to remind you just how lucky we are to live in a country where medical care remains free and available to all.
Name me one thing we take for granted more than our NHS? I'll wait.
We grumble about long waiting times, lament the over-crowding and get irate about the price of parking.
But I came away from my own experience reminded just how wonderful a service it is.
For something as simple as a broken finger, I would estimate that our son's treatment involved at least 50 NHS staff over the two trips.
And from the person who first welcomed us at A&E, to the nurses who stayed by his side as our boy came round after a minor operation - all of them were warm, empathic and very patient with a little boy terrified by his first trip to A&E, as well as his worried parents.
Yes there were times it felt frustratingly slow, but those feelings were soon surpassed by the relief he was being thoroughly checked over and brilliantly cared for.
At no point did we have to worry about the spiralling cost of his treatment and all those hours being devoted to it, or that our boy was at any point being rushed through the system by staff under undue pressure because they have been told the more people they treat the more money it's going to bring in.
And that's because of the wonderful thing called the NHS.
Of course, as editor of the local paper I know we play a major part in helping to frame people's perception of this service.
We highlight all those issues I flagged earlier, point out when inspection reports are bad (we do the good ones too of course) and scrutinise the decisions of those in charge. If we didn't how would things improve?
But we always try to offset any criticism with praise for the staff, the vast majority of who are simply trying their hardest in what must be incredibly hard circumstances.
Whatever we write about the NHS from here on in, you can take it as read that here's one relieved Dad (and editor) who has been reminded just how great a job those involved in NHS care do and that we'll try not to forget that fact.