My son has chipped a tooth. In between now and tomorrow's appointment (mercifully at a different dentist to the one I recently wasted time at) I looked up teeth, teeth pain, tooth chipped and so forth on NHS Direct online.
The results? Articles on whiplash and CJD. I don't think NHS Direct really do teeth. My son seemed a lot better after a bit of mashed potato and some Calpol.
Update: Today his lip was very puffy. As you'd expect if you fall off your skateboard and it smacks you square in the gob. So I called NHS Direct, who advised me to take him to hospital. They always tell you to go to hospital, but all that happens is that too many people who could have been seen by their GP end up clogging up A & E. So I called the hospital before taking him. They actually seemed quite appreciative and put me through to a doctor. I asked him what would be achieved by coming down. He took me through a checklist and, satisfied that my son wasn't allergic to the antibiotics given by the dentist or about to die, said not much unless it got worse. Which it hasn't. The dentist is sorting the tooth. The doctor suggested Ibuprofen syrup to ease the swelling.
I am so glad we didn't go and sit in casualty for four hours to be sent home and told to get some syrup from the chemist. It's not the hospital I have a problem with. I just get fed up with NHS Direct and their kneejerk reactions sometimes. They came into being not long after my son did, and I would say that nine times out of ten when I've called I've been told to go to hospital. On the occasions where I followed this advice, it was totally unnecessary. The other times, it was bloody obvious he needed to go to hospital. In fact, on those occasions I don't think we even had time to call NHS Direct. There was the time he split his head open in Harvey Nichols by running into a wall (an anarchic act of anti-consumerism by a bored four-year-old). The manager gave him a huge lollipop just before the ambulance arrived, presumably to lessen the threat of impending litigation...they did put that wall in a very stupid place. Then there was the time he shut his fingers in the car door. No time for telephone calls with a screaming toddler on our hands...and we were in the car anyway so it seemed silly not to just go straight to hospital. Then there was the hideous rounders bat in face injury, at school in the playground. I was at a business meeting in town and went through every red light to get to school long before they'd even thought to call 999, which in my opinion would have been the best thing. I remember screeching over to the hospital, talking to him constantly to keep him from slipping into unconsciousness. Horrible.
Then there was the time he dropped a huge urn on his toe. Again, would you pause to call NHS Direct to chat it over with a nurse? How about the time he pulled a chest of drawers onto himself (aged one - he completely disappeared, only to emerge triumphant with a mere scratch. We took him to hospital anyway. It was a large chest of drawers). And then there was the meningitis scare. A scare, but you don't piss around on the phone with that sort of thing. All of these events warranted hospital without procrastination.
To conclude. On this occasion? Hospital would have been a potential waste of everyone's time, and precious resources. NHS Direct? Well, I gave them a go, but wrong, wrong and wrong again. Parental instinct rarely fails. Especially when you have had quite a lot of experience of hospitals.