NIGEL THORNTON: Public needs to know about hospital safety issue

Thornton on Thursday column with Peterborough Telegraph's deputy editor Nigel Thornton - peterboroughtoday.co.uk
Thornton on Thursday column with Peterborough Telegraph's deputy editor Nigel Thornton - peterboroughtoday.co.uk

Most people have long since stopped referring to the city’s hospital as a “superhospital’’. Burdened with a huge debt from day one such a name seemed a cruel jibe.

Ironically, at what it is supposed to do –treat and care for patients – it is often super (credit to the doctors and nurses).

The latest revelation that the building is unsafe because of how it was built is just another in a long line of “off the field’’ problems.

The situation is so severe that the fire service has issued an enforcement notice “to ensure that the building is made safe’’.

We only know about this because an e-mail was leaked to the PT.

A hospital spokeswoman, who of course is only saying what her bosses want her to say, didn’t seem to think the public needed to know this.

She pointed out that the notice was on the Chief Fire Officers’ Association website – but then I’m sure you all knew that already as you will be regular visitors there if you want to keep up to date with what’s happening at Peterborough City Hospital.

She added: “The enforcement notice being served in March did not trigger any new actions nor change the remedial work action plan, so it did not require us to issue any specific message to our staff, patients or visitors.’’

I beg to differ. I’m in good company with MP Stewart Jackson saying “the trust board need to urgently reassure patients, staff and families and put their minds at rest.’’ His colleague Shailesh Vara MP, a man not known for hyperbole, said the notice was “a significant concern for both patients and staff’’.

So why the trust’s reticence to share?

Perhaps it’s because in explaining why it had taken such drastic action the fire service cited “a lack of progress’’ since the problem was first identified. How is that acceptable?

Another thing puzzling me is how come the building was allowed to come into use with these problems? I had a friend who had a loft conversion and the work had to pass fire regulations.Didn’t the hospital?

The public is entitled to be kept fully informed about all these issues.

Rico’s story

A few weeks ago I, along with hundreds of thousands of others, signed the petition calling for the Government to provide the Meningitis B vaccine for all children.

I was unaware that about the same time the lives of the Dunworth family from Farcet where being turned upside down.

Their son Rico was a healthy eight-year-old when out of the blue he was hit by this terrible disease.

Rico nearly lost his life. He has had parts of both feet amputated and will face many difficult challenges in the years ahead.

As a father of young children I don’t mind admitting I had a lump in my throat when I read the words of Rico’s dad who said: “Until you’re actually staring there for three days watching your eight-year-old boy fight for his life, words can’t describe it.’’

The government has decided it’s not cost effective to give the vaccine to all children.

It must think again.

Rico’s dad added: “I feel very angry towards the government. Look at the suffering. If there’s a risk, let’s take it away. Parents and children should not have to go through what we’ve been through.’’

Choice words

It was disappointing but not unexpected when we got the news of the primary school placement for our four-year-old this week.

We have got our third “choice’’. I say “choice’’ but that’s just a sham because in effect there is no “choice’’.

The aggressive growth agenda imposed on Peterborough by the local council and national government, added to uncontrolled immigration, means that inevitably infrastructure lags behind the community’s needs.

In reality, there is little or no choice because the pressure on school places is so severe you get what you are given.

Diary Of A Bad Dad

I’m not the first adult to have rings run round them by a pre-schooler/devil child and I’m sure I won’t be the last.

But that doesn’t help my feelings of inadequacy. I can now add ‘parent’ to footballer, guitarist and chef, as a role I’m not very good at.

It’s not even the interminable questions Toddler T fires at bedtime because to be honest I’ve given up thinking I have all the answers.

“Why are bananas yellow?’’ she asked.

“Oh for goodness sake, they just are and centipedes have so many legs because the leg shop had some fire-damaged stock they were selling cheap and the centipedes bought a job lot.’’

That was the answer I wanted to give but instead I just smiled weakly and promised to find out.

Clearly I’m totally out out of my depth but what clinched it for me was “The Case of The Bathtime Banana’’.

“Can I have banana, please daddy?’’ asked Toddler T.

“No, it’s bathtime and you’ve just had one.’’

Toddler T then pulls mock angry/sad face before grinning: “I’ll keep whinging on until you let me have one.’’

I capitulate and let her have one. She is triumphant and I have another epic parenting fail to my name.