Mrs G cut her thumb today while peeling potatoes. The cut was quite deep and there was lots of blood, but when the thumb was cleaned up it didn’t look too bad. I applied Savlon cream and Elastoplast and would probably have left it at that were it not for the fact that the potatoes had soil on them and with soil comes the danger of tetanus.
We calculated that Mrs G’s last tetanus jab was 20 years ago, so clearly she need another. But where to go? The A & E Department at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital seemed a bit OT for such a slight injury, so we decided to try the NHS Walk-In Centre at Bensham for the first time.
Good choice – Mrs G was seen quickly and received excellent care. First the receptionist took brief details, then we sat in the waiting room along with perhaps another seven or eight people. After twenty minutes or so Mrs G was called into a treatment room where she saw the Triage Nurse who cleaned up the wound, applied a temporary dressing and finally filled out a comprehensive ‘medical history’ form on a computer terminal. Naturally, this being an NHS computer terminal, the system froze before the form was complete, but this didn’t hold things up much and, after a brief return to the waiting room, Mrs G was called in to see a Nurse Practitioner.
This gentleman examined the wound and applied a more permanent dressing, but when Mrs G broached the subject of a tetanus jab, he seemed surprisingly reluctant to accede. We explained that there was soil in the wound and she hadn’t had a jab for 20 years, but he said that NHS policy now was that if someone had had five or more tetanus jabs at any time, then they were protected for life and didn’t need further jabs. And, he added, everybody had four tetanus jabs when they were children so, with the extra one twenty years ago, she’d received her five and didn’t need any more!
Where on earth he got the idea that everybody had four tetanus jabs as children, I don’t know. Perhaps it’s true for twenty and thirty somethings, but it certainly isn’t true for sixty somethings like us. All Mrs G got as a child were vaccinations against polio and smallpox, I only got the former. After explaining this, Mrs G got her tetanus jab and that was it, job done apart from the instruction to keep the wound dry for a few days.
So we thanked the nurse and left, completely satisfied with treatment and indeed the whole experience – notwithstanding the IT problem and the Nurse Practitioner’s misconception about the NHS’s early vaccination practices. Nice to see that at least one of this present government’s initiatives is living up to its hype.