Deb's Digest
Debbie Atkinson’s family life column, as featured in the Southport Visiter.

Monday, 6 July 2009


Baby Oscar has been poorly. Teething plus an ear infection.  The doc prescribed an anti-biotic but the sleepless nights continued so, in desperation and as a new dad, our son rang NHS Direct at 2am to ask the simple question "Can we put calgel on the baby's gums while he is on an antibiotic?"

After automated questions and answers and then live questions and answers the person on the phone said she'd get someone to ring back. In the meantime Our daughter-in-law had managed to get Oscar back to sleep.

The phone rang 20 minutes later. "Is he rousable?" asked the NHS Direct man.  "No he's flat out, asleep, but all I want to know is, can I put Calgel on his gums while he's on an antibiotic?" said our son.

"Are his lips blue?"     "No"   "If you touch his ear or his face does he react?"     "No, he's asleep"   "I'm going to have to call an ambulance sir."

By this time our son and his wife were panicking beyond measure thinking that the NHS Direct man knew something they didn't. So with pounding hearts they tried to wake their sleeping son. Oscar, naturally was not happy and started to complain and rub his weary eyes. "He's rubbing his eyes" our son told the NHS Direct man. "Oh, that's alright then," he said. "Now could you please tell me can I put Calgel on his gums?"  "I'll get someone to ring you back within two hours sir."  At 5.30am the phone rang and very sensibly our son didn't answer it.


  1. Sorry to hear that Oscar has been poorly. Next time, just use the Calgel and go back to sleep. It's OK.

  2. I've passed that on - thankyou.

  3. how terrible that so few people have any common sense (in NHS that is)

    I saw baby O today at play group and he seems to be on the mend thankfully: totally gorgeous with it.