Today I would like to extol the virtues of NHS Direct. Really, I haven’t a bad word to say about them. For the nth time, this week I rang them in a panic. It was the weekend and my 2 year old was laying mournfully on the sofa with diarhorrea and vomiting and I had been on the internet looking up ecoli as the sickness occurred right after a visit to an open farm.
I wasn’t too bothered to start with, like many of you our household has been invaded by these horrible bugs, coughs and sneezes all winter and I assumed this was just another. But it was ongoing and I panicked. For some reason I always feel a bit guilty when I ring, like they must be thinking ‘If you were a good mother you would have been to the doctors by now’. But every time I have called they have been nothing but lovely to me on the phone. Helpful, understanding, non-judgemental and a damned sight more proactive than my GP.
I first called them about 11.30pm when my first daughter was just a babe. She had a raging temperature and was very sleepy and I didn’t know what to do. It was off to A&E or ring NHS Direct. I was in tears by the time I called, drained by 3 days of no sleep and thinking my baby was going to die. I couldn’t get her temp down, she was unresponsive and just sleeping and I had done the worst thing any mother could do…..googled her symptoms and come up with the surety that she was critically ill. Of course, she wasn’t. She was poorly, and it was to be one of many childhood fevers, but it was the first time I had come across it – I was a first-time mum; clueless, exhausted and overwhelmed with panic. There were SO reassuring. They calmed me, they thoroughly went through her symptoms and they advised me on what to do. They reassured me that if there was any change, any panic, any questions – I must call them back. They were, in short, amazingly helpful and nice.
Since then I have called them many times, always in a state of mild paranoia and they have been consistently kind and informative. They are super-efficient and each time I come off the phone I feel a little choked with gratitude. Because you don’t get service like that very much and certainly not with a smile.