3 Best Ways To Remove A Splinter From A Child”s Skin
What follows is a parable for our times. Like every good parable it contains a message for all of us – but most especially for the bureaucrats who rule our lives. 3 Best Ways To Remove A Splinter From A Child’s Skin concerns my seven-year-old son, a splinter in his finger and the strange ways of that weird and wonderful institution, the National Health Service. For small boys like my son, who would happily spend their entire lives climbing trees, splinters are an occupational hazard.
This one was a bit more stubborn than most. I tried and failed to dig it out with a needle, and when his finger started swelling up I thought it might be sensible to get it seen to. What a deceptively simple phrase that is: “get it seen to”. In retrospect, I am appalled at my naivety. In my own childhood “getting it seen to” would have meant going to Mr Morgan, the chemist on the corner of the street, who would have dug it out, sloshed some antiseptic on it and sent me home. He was also the man to get the grit out of your eye if your mother couldn’t.
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Fat chance of that happening today – even if my local chemist had been open, which he wasn’t. But I do live near two large hospitals with accident and emergency units, so off we went to the closer of them. I felt slightly guilty taking up a hospital’s time for such a trivial injury – it was, after all, only a little splinter – but I assumed they wouldn’t be busy on a bank holiday Saturday with London half-empty. And I was right: there were only a few people in the waiting room.
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Sorry,” said the pleasant young woman at the reception desk. Well,” she said a little doubtfully, “I expect the nurse will see you. The nurse – when we were finally admitted – examined the finger, asked questions, looked worried and said she’d have to fetch the doctor. Along came the doctor, examined the finger and also looked a little worried. By which time I was getting worried too. Would the finger have to come off?
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Can’t you get it out,” I asked. Look,” I said, “it’s a splinter in a finger. It will take you about 30 seconds to get it out and I can take my little boy home and give him his supper instead of traipsing all the way into the West End of London with all the hassle that involves. You can do it, can’t you? Yes, of course,” he said, “but it’s the after-care.
I’m sorry to say that I lost it at that point. I’m not asking you to perform open-heart surgery! This is a little splinter in a little boy’s finger, for God’s sake! E unit: St Mary’s in Paddington. An hour later, we were standing before yet another receptionist in yet another waiting room, going through all the same admission procedures.
And then we saw another nurse. This one thought my son should have some painkiller. She also thought he should have an X-ray. So she rang the X-ray department, explained the situation, and was told that, no, they didn’t think it would be necessary. So back we went to the waiting room to wait for the doctor. She was lovely – bright and friendly – and she examined the finger and thought we’d better have an X-ray.
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Wood doesn’t show up on X-rays. We were referred to a more senior doctor. She was also delightful and after yet another examination told the junior doctor she should take out the splinter with a needle and squeeze out the pus. It turned out to be a tiny thorn.
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And finally we went home – one small boy tired and very hungry and one father baffled by the whole thing. To remove that little thorn from a finger we had seen two receptionists, two nurses, three doctors of varying seniority and one X-ray technician. We had set out in the afternoon and were returning home nearly five hours later. My little boy was full of painkiller for his non-existent pain and might also have been full of antibiotics if I had given him the medicine – which I did not. God knows what the whole thing cost or how many NHS targets it helped meet. Now, look, I know I should be grateful – and I am. My little boy no longer has a swollen finger and I no longer have to worry about some hideous infection ravaging his entire body.
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It didn’t cost me anything apart from the better part of an afternoon and an evening and another little boost for my blood pressure. And almost everyone I dealt with was unfailingly courteous. But there was one thing missing. One vital ingredient without which no organisation can properly function. E units are children and it makes a lot of sense to have special facilities for them. E was carried out by experts from the royal colleges and professional associations.
They made 32 recommendations and emphasised the need for separate and specialised care. Five years later a report in the British Medical Journal concluded that there were still fundamental problems. E units did not have separate triage facilities for children where an immediate assessment of their needs could be made, and even in those that did, nearly a quarter did not have a nurse who had been specially trained to do the work. E consultants had received no training in the care of children. E units where a child badly hurt in a road accident, for instance, can be rushed for specialist treatment.
But it cannot possibly make sense for a child with a minor injury to be turned away from hospitals where the staff are under no pressure at all. What if it had been a major injury? Would they still have told me to go elsewhere? I put all this to a spokesman for NHS London – a sensible chap – and he agreed with me. It was, he said with studied understatement, “somewhat surprising” that we had been turned away. The NHS will be 60 years old this summer and the results of the latest review into the treatment of children in hospitals will be announced – part of the wide-ranging Darzi review set up by Gordon Brown when he moved into No 10.
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Whatever else they may recommend, it’s to be hoped they have already decided on their first finding: “We propose that the guiding principle of the system shall be common sense. No comments have so far been submitted. Why not be the first to send us your thoughts, or debate this issue live on our message boards. We are no longer accepting comments on this article.
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Rita Ora will be raising temperatures in Henley, Lionel Richie promises a mean time in Greenwich and Chris Evans revs up at Carfest. Please forward this error screen to 209. 964 0 0 0 15 20c0 2. 984 0 0 0 19 8c2. Inquisition merely performs the duty of its office.
To further fear them is redundant, to hate them, heretical. In the modern 41st Millennium, the Inquisition is the most powerful organisation of the Imperium’s many branches. Its agents, the Inquisitors, command fear and respect in equal measure. They are creatures of myth as much of flesh and blood, relentless beings who descend from on high to pass judgement upon the mutant, the traitor and the heretic. Inquisitors themselves care little for morality, and nothing at all for the Imperium’s many laws and procedures, except when they choose to make use of them. They are the Emperor’s left hand as the Adeptus Terra is his right, and stand in judgement over all the Imperium’s organisations. Indeed, an Inquisitor is apart from the rest of Mankind in every way that matters.
An Inquisitor labours for nothing less than the endurance of Mankind. This is a cold-hearted pragmatism, so unyielding and fervid that it eclipses the faith of even the most devout of the Ecclesiarchy’s adepts. Though learned, Inquisitors do not possess some all-encompassing store of knowledge and certainty, for even the furthest-travelled and most experienced of their number hold but a fraction of the Emperor’s wisdom. Though there are many thousands of Inquisitors scattered across the Imperium, such are the threats arrayed against Mankind that ten times their number could not hope to achieve lasting victory, or even meaningful respite. If perspicacious enough, an Inquisitor will be able to detect incipient disaster through analysis or instinct, excising the cancer before it takes root, whether in person or through the scalpel of the Officio Assassinorum. Lesser men might believe that the means matter more than the end, but those who bear the Inquisitorial Seal know better.
Inquisition would be considered as monstrous as the threats they oppose, but to judge them as such is to wilfully overlook a brutal truth: morality and compassion are luxuries that the Imperium can ill afford. Steeped in atrocity though they may be, Inquisitors are the heroes their times require. It should come as no surprise that the Inquisition’s past is shrouded in secrecy. Even the Inquisitors themselves have only the haziest of understandings as to how their organisation was founded, and must rely on hundreds of disparate and contradictory legends for guidance.
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Ordo Originatus — dedicated to unravelling ten millennia of myths, exaggerations and lies. What almost all the legends agree on, however, is that the Inquisition is widely believed to have been formed by Malcador the Sigillite by the order of the Emperor of Mankind during the final days of the Horus Heresy. Though it is widely known across the galaxy that the Inquisition exists, its deeds are all but impossible to trace. Records are sealed, restricted or simply destroyed. Witnesses are silenced, suffer telepathic mind-wipe or are slain out of hand. Yet the signs are there for those who know how to look for them. You cannot deny Mankind the Emperor, He and the empire He has built are Mankind’s only chance of survival.
With the backing of the Primarchs, the two first Inquisitors made themselves known to the High Lords and began to recruit like-minded individuals from amongst the adepts and warriors on Terra. Fearful that Moriana would unleash unspeakable powers of Chaos to achieve her goal, Promeus created a small army of dedicated followers to combat the menace he believed she posed. These two factions clashed many times until Promeus’s disciples prevailed and Moriana disappeared, probably into the Eye of Terror. As the Inquisition grew and its presence was felt further and further from Terra, it came into contact with the Promeans. As the Inquisition possesses neither formal hierarchy nor leadership, each Inquisitor is free to pursue the mission of Humanity’s survival in the manner he or she believes most appropriate. Like-minded fellows gather together to investigate areas of mutual interest or concern, as bounded by one of the many Inquisitorial Ordos. Each Ordo waxes and wanes with the times, for many Inquisitors move freely between them according to where they judge the need to lie.