Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Why Robert joined the picket line

THESE two sweet-looking children joined the picket line when junior doctors staged a 24-hour walkout at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading last week.

THESE two sweet-looking children joined the picket line when junior doctors staged a 24-hour walkout at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading last week.

Robert Airey, four, had good reason to support the striking medics.

As the Henley Standard reported in November, he is only alive today because of the team that treated him after he contracted pneumococcal meningitis as a baby in December 2011.

He was rushed to the Royal Berks on Boxing Day and doctors warned his mother Sarah Morton and her husband Paul Airey, from Goring, to prepare for the worst.

In the event, Robert fought for his life and was able to leave hospital two weeks later.

Mrs Morton, a GP at the Balmore Park Surgery in Caversham, wanted to show support for her NHS colleagues on Tuesday last week, so she took along Robert and his two-year-old sister Lucy.

The children spent an hour at the picket line, holding banners and handing out sweets and stickers.

Dr Morton said: “I went to the picket line as a mum and a GP. Lucy is too young to understand but Robert knows that junior doctors work hard to help us when we are poorly.

“He understands he had a poorly head when he was little and that he went in an ambulance with flashing lights with a junior doctor to another hospital and junior doctors helped him get better.

“He also knows mummy used to be a junior doctor before she was a GP but he’s too young to be told that three junior doctors from the Royal Berkshire Hospital saved his life when he stopped breathing due to severe meningitis and sepsis.”

Dr Morton said she felt compelled to support the junior doctors in their protest over a new contract which they argue will be bad for patients but the Government says is designed to create a 24/7 health service.

“I didn’t ‘enjoy’ being there,” she said. “Those hardworking, dedicated junior doctors were faced with a difficult decision of whether to strike but 98 per cent in favour is just remarkable.

“They decided that the Government wasn’t listening to their concerns about a safe and fair contract and that their patients would be put at risk.

“You won’t find a doctor of any grade who wouldn’t welcome improvements to weekend working but we already have an emergency 24/7 service.

“I should know, I’ve worked those weekends, nights, Christmases and New Years as a junior doctor and Robert was actually resuscitated on Boxing Day in the middle of the night by three junior doctors.

“We feel incredibly fortunate that he survived.”



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