Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Pump up the volume

My son is fed directly through his stomach wall by a feed pump. (As he can't swallow properly, anything by mouth is as likely to go down onto his lungs as into his digestive tract - this is dangerous.)

So we got a call from one of the nurses to tell us that his pump had developed a fault. (Yes the equipment is crap, but I suppose all equipment breaks down occasionally - though you'd think medical stuff would be a bit more reliable.) So she rings the supplier who says ' just put it back on charge for a bit, it should be OK' - doesn't this remind you of the IT helpdesk 'switch it off and on again routine'. What she's really saying is 'despite using this machine for over 15 years you haven't a clue and probably isn't even broken'. Patronising alienating and wrong - all in one sentence. The fact that it should have been serviced 5 months ago (and wasn't) can't have anything to do with this, can it.

Rang them again - this time, 'oh, as you have more than one pump we won't replace the broken one' (we have more than one because they didn't call to collect the other when it broke down last time) 'and we know the machine is overdue for a service, but we're short of spare pumps and engineers so we aren't doing it yet'.

I think a robust call to the contracting dietician may be in order .... But we can do without this. And when all the personalisation is in place we'll be able to shout at them direct ourselves - so that will make it all better, won't it.

PS - yes I'm well aware of the 'yellow card' system to report poor medical equipment, and we use it regularly. We are therefore marked down as troublemakers. And the NHS still use this stuff because it's cheap - it's cheap because it's rubbish!

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