Patient opinion matters

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Quentin, without two teeth

It happened on Christmas Day.

Our Christian celebration and a time for love and hope and goodwill. My son J and I saw this is abundance in one single half hour in a dental surgery, and it was totally unexpected and surrounded by worry.

Our delightful little 4 year old grandson came with his big sister from Holland to celebrate Christmas with us, and during a short walk on Christmas Day afternoon, he fell full length on some ancient stone steps in the grounds of Whalley Abbey, and knocked out one his front teeth, and loosened another. Amidst his screams and copious amounts of blood, my husband ran to a nearby shop (amazingly it was open!) for tissues and then for our car to take him home.

After at least an hour of trying to convince NHS Direct that we needed a dentist and not a trip to the local hospital’s emergency department, I gave up and contacted our private dental practice and asked to be put through to the emergency on call partner. A little while later we were on our way to the surgery, having been directed to enter by the back door.

To say we were anxious was an understatement, my son was as traumatised as his little boy, and we were worried about the decision about to be made on the future of the loose tooth. Dr Alison Whittaker met us at the door, with a beaming smile and such a pleasant, reassuring attitude. She instantly made us feel safe and secure. What a difference it made to us all, and our small grandson didn’t hesitate climbing on the treatment couch so that she could look at him.

Dr Alison Whittaker with Q

Dr Alison Whittaker with Q

I have recently posted about my experience of NHS care, and the importance of positive attitude, kindness and compassion from healthcare workers. I am no stranger to the impact this has on patient experience, and how a nurturing environment aids recovery and supports families to aid the process. I have also recently discovered the brilliant and ‘common sense’ work of Robin Youngson who demonstrates how ‘compassionate care saves time, money and lives‘. And I have seen it myself from a caregivers, patient, and family member perspective.

Through #Twitter I came across Patient Opinion, the UK’s leading independent non-profit feedback platform for health services. The website facilitates ‘honest and meaningful conversations between patients and health services‘, and I was happy to tell them about our liaison with Dr Whittaker. I think feedback is a powerful tool, and crucial in encouraging and supporting first class health care. And what better way to let someone know they have made a difference? Or that there needs to be an improvement?

And what a perfect antedote to the negative unsolicited media coverage of the National Health Service, which does nought but instil fear in those who use it. Patient Opinion can help those of us who work or have worked for the NHS and affiliated services to promote positive stories and further empower those who are committed to serving their community with pride.

Do you have a story to tell?

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