I’m not very old, it’s true. But I have been around long enough to amass a small number of less-than-perfect experiences at the walk in centre.
It’s normally the absurd waiting times, which in itself are usually enough to deter me from making the trip to the walk in centre in the first place. But even when I have deemed the ailment serious enough to barter endless hours of my time, it’s not almost the most pleasant of experiences – a recent example seeing my mother and I being led around like headless chickens whilst the doctor tried to find an empty room.
Which is why I am, quite frankly, horrified at today’s announcements that four A&E departments across North West London are to be closed or downgraded – leaving three out of eight boroughs without one and almost two million people without a major hospital. But it’s fine, because all four hospitals will retain a walk in centre to treat non-life threatening injuries for the 70% of A&E patients the NHS deems unnecessary – right?
70%?! On top of all those who are already there? Are they having a laugh? They might as well change the name from a walk in centre to a housing shelter, what with the inevitable endless delays which are sure to ensue – especially after recent reports that A&E waits are the highest they’ve been for a decade. At least then they would be killing two birds with one stone.
And this is all following the recent closures in Lewisham and preceding the two A&E departments which are expected to close in South West London following a meeting of health bosses on Thursday.
It all looks even worse when viewed through the glasses of former government A&E tsar, Matthew Cooke, who said just yesterday that the NHS is obsessed with waiting time targets, prompting fears that the focus is on quantity rather than quality.
If they really are scrapping A&E departments so as to set the waiting time dial back to 0, they’re going to be in for a nasty surprise as waiting times at walk in clinics become simply impossible. Not to mention the very real fact that even if, as the NHS has said, 70% of A&E patients are surplus to requirements, the poor 30% who really need the service are going to have travel further out in order to get it. Which kind of makes the whole ‘accident and emergency’ thing a bit of a paradox.
I desperately hope that I will live out the rest of my days in perfect health. But somehow I think that in 25 years from now, assuming these plans do go ahead, I will remember the small number of less-than-perfect experiences at the walk in centre as some of the best healthcare services of my life.
I hope I am wrong.
The Father of the Bride himself, Steve Martin, has become a dad for the first time at the ripe age of 67. I would say the ripe old age, but apparently, if the internet is anything to go by, no one seems to have actually taken any exception to how old he is.
In fact, scrolling down to the comment section of the Daily Mail website, those who have questioned the appropriateness of such a life-changing decision at his age have been virtually lynched by the majority who ‘could not be happier’ for the actor.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of Mr Cheaper by the Dozen. But do I think having a child at the age of 67 is the right thing to do? Absolutely not.
I don’t mean to sound dramatic, or incur the wrath of the red arrow, but like it or not, the older you are the riskier having a child becomes. Sometimes I wonder if people realise fully just how equal the partnership of conceiving a child is. There’s a reason that women have a cut-off point in which they are physically no longer able to carry a child into this world, and just because the male counterpart is not involved in the actual carrying of the foetus does not mean that they can, or should, father a child whenever they fancy.
Not to mention the other necessary evils of fathering a child in the later stages of life; namely the fact that you will not be there for them for as long as you should be.
And it’s not just a one-off here and there by those in the public eye and thus, those who clearly think their bank balance is the justification to everything.
Figures released a few weeks ago by the ONS show that the number of men over 50 who are having children has increased by 40% in the last 12 years. And according to the accompanying article in the Daily Mail, it could be down to the fact that men are following famous older fathers.
And this might be down to the fact that although we seem to blindly support older celebrity fathers, we will simultaneously criticise the normal plebs who do the same. After all, there’s no shortage of criticism under this Daily Mail article, and no red arrows lynching the overwhelming opinion that it is not good news.
We need to remember that celebrities, no matter how good looking, funny or clever are, at the end of the day, human. They don’t carry magical sperm and do not live any longer than anyone else. Maybe if we took them off the pedestal they are so often perched upon once in a while, normal people would not see fit to follow in their footsteps.
The kids might be alright. But is this good enough?
When I was about six years old, I ran across the road without looking. My parents’ horror quickly became my own when they subsequently made me wear a harness to school for about a week. At the time I thought I would never forgive them. But 20 odd years later and an overly careful approach to road safety, I now hold this up as a beacon of importance.
Children run across the road. Simple. But as parents, educators and a government supposedly intended to protect its citizens, we have a duty to teach them otherwise. Before today I would not have thought that anyone would want, let alone be able to contradict this. But I was wrong.
As of this morning, the Department for Transport (DfT) announced it is to axe the television adverts teaching children to cross the road safely which have been broadcast for 60 years.
The vital importance of these adverts is unarguable. According to reported figures, 260 children were killed on Britain’s roads each year in the mid 90s. By 2010 this had fallen to 55 but in 2011 rose again to 60.
Yet this has not stopped the DfT slashing the budget for road safety publicity from £19 million to just £3.9 million. Even more concerning is the subsequent distribution of this, with the majority spent on targeting drink drivers over the Christmas period, £1.3 million warning drivers to look out for motorcyclists, and the remainder, a meagre £78,000, on keeping children safe. That’s just 2% of the overall road safety budget.
The statement that their adverts will still be available online is an even further disservice to our young ones, as we all know how safe the internet is for children.
Sadly, it seems to be a common theme, what with the childcare reforms relaxing the staff-child ratio also seemingly proposed at the expense of children.
Why did the children cross the road? I don’t know, but you can bet your bottom dollar it has something to do with the fact that they hadn’t seen an advert.
A few months ago I had a skin tag on my face. It was not the first time, and will probably not be the last. I know it’s hardly life-threatening, but the treatment I received at my local doctor’s surgery was shocking.
After a series of receptionist-led errors, in which I was made to wait about a month just to be told by the doctor that I needed to make an appointment to have it removed – something which I assumed had been done when I’d first called up four weeks previously – I deemed it both fair and appropriate to query it there and then. After all, I had taken time off work for this waste of an appointment, and now needed to make another.
But when I raised my concerns to the receptionist on the desk at the time, especially after I was told the earliest I could have it removed was another four weeks from then, she, quite rudely and exceptionally loudly in front of a full waiting room of people, retorted that I should be grateful that they’ll even do it for me. “Most doctors don’t do this kind of thing anymore, because it’s only cosmetic and is not serious.”
I was horrified. Who was this receptionist to tell me what is, and is not, a serious health concern?
Four weeks later, however, after a quick and relatively painless procedure, the skin tag was removed and my anger levels were back to normal. All was well in the world again.
Except, it isn’t.
A colleague of mine went to the doctor last week about a cyst he has on his head. It resides on the crown of his head, underneath a full head of hair. I tell you these details not because I think you have a genuine interest in the cyst of someone you don’t know, but because the point is, one would only be able to see it if my colleague swept his hair away and pointed it out to you. I think we can all agree, therefore, that his visit to the doctor had absolutely no connection to anything cosmetic.
No, the reason he made the appointment to have the cyst on his head removed is, quite simply, down to the fact that it has started to cause him discomfort at night due to the pressure of his head on the pillow.
But despite this, the doctor asked him if he had private medical insurance because the NHS won’t fund the removal of cysts, which it regards as cosmetic.
It didn’t matter that she very candidly admitted to him that the NHS wants to be seen as doing what ‘looks good’ and, unfortunately, cyst removal is very low down on the list of priorities when it comes to that criteria. Nor that, contrary to what the NHS likes to boast, there is really no patient choice at all in the NHS. It didn’t even matter that she told him that she is against GP commissioning because it is she that will be blamed by the patients when she tells them that their procedures will not be funded by the NHS.
Because ultimately, if my colleague wants to have a good sleep at night, he has to pay for it.
You don’t have to be a medical expert to know the difference between a cosmetic reason and a genuine medical reason. It’s not hard to distinguish a big nose that its owner is desperate to minimise from an unseen cyst which is causing serious discomfort. Or, for that matter, the removal of painful varicose veins which the NHS are seriously rationing because they deem it more ‘vain’ than ‘veins’.
It’s not even as if the NHS truly honour their commitment, as set out on their website, to deal with those things it actually does deem as non cosmetic. Because according to NHS Choices, “breast reduction is sometimes used to alleviate back or neck pain.” However, another work colleague of mine with a breast size of 32 L, suffering with both back and neck pain, was told she was not eligible for breast reduction surgery on the NHS. And so, £6,000 later, she is now a happier and healthier (albeit poorer) size 32 FF.
It’s all very well trying to save money, but when reports are continually surfacing on the vast and wide ways the NHS is supposedly wasting money, most recently in the questions which have arisen surrounding how NICE determines the value of treatments, it all becomes a bit farcical.
Not to mention the cost of fixing a DIY cyst-removal, which I’m pretty sure the NHS would be hard-pressed to turn away.
Unless, of course, the cyst has been so hard-pressed, it is no longer deemed as such.
A collection of articles in the Daily Mail yesterday have left me feeling somewhat perturbed.
The first, written by an ex-teacher, explains that teachers treat children with names that scream “troublemaker” differently to those with more traditional names.
It is, apparently, backed up by statistics – in the form of a study last month which found that ‘Bradley’ and ‘Paige’ are the naughtiest names, whilst old-fashioned names such as Elizabeth and Benjamin came top for good behaviour.
Here I must interject, for not only is ‘Bradley’, as far as I am aware, a ‘traditional’ name, every single Benjamin I have ever known has been naughty/cheeky/rebellious/all of the above.
But if this is questionable research, at best, what do the statements, penned by the very same writer, that “disregard for traditional names often goes hand in hand with a lack of respect for rules in general” and “the more E’s, I’s and Y’s added to a name, the more mischievous the child” say about the destiny of a child? That it’s fated from the moment that child is given a name? Am I alone in screaming at the writer and every other teacher who finds themselves pre-judging a child based on their name that if they really are that shallow, it is they that need to be addressed as a competent teacher and not the poor pupil who is merely going by the name given to them from birth?
The second article which left me a little disturbed was the one that claimed that praising your child may do more harm than good. Apparently, phrases such as ‘well done darling’ and ‘you’re so clever’ could hinder their future performance at school because they can’t live up to false expectations. But surely praise is easier to live up to than no expectations? And, for that matter, who says these expectations are false, anyway?
So let me get this straight; children can’t live up to ‘false expectations’ but they can, and will, live up to a name, depending on how many vowels are in it? Are we to leave any free will to children at all?
Heavens, what chance does someone with an untraditional name have once praised?
Over to you, Beyoncé.