A CHILD GOES TO HOSPITAL appreciated Miles Howard's comments in
'A Doctor's Journal (Spectator, August 1) and could not agree with him more strongly over the treatment of young children when sending them to hospital. My daughter was fifteen months old when she was
whisked, very wisely, into hospital. She was extremely ill on entering and my•husband and I stayed and saw her strapped in her cot in a cubicle on her own, then took our leave. We were told we could return the next day to' see her as it was a visiting day. The next day we were informed that we could look at her but on no account were we to let her see us, and for the future it was considered wisest that we stay away completely as our presence might upset her. I did look at her and found her lying down, no tears, but emitting a cry that sounded more animal than human, whether as a result of her illness or not I could not tell. It was a hard task indeed to comply with the hospital's wishes and I could never reconcile myself to (what I considered) their misguided beliefs that the occasional sight of us could possibly harm her; it all seemed utter nonsense to me, a mere mother.
With an older child it is easier should this method be adopted; you can explain, you can write, you can communicate in some way or other; younger ones cannot be prepared in any way for admittance to hospital; they must experience nothing but a great feeling of loss, of being cut adrift, of being let down by the very people who make up their small world. Being ill and at their lowest ebb must be for children, amongst other things, a great crisis in their lives and they look for reassurance to the people closest to them. It is impossible to assess at this moment if any harm has been done, but I sincerely hope that if and when my daughter needs future help in her life, she will not turn away from us with the possible memory of the let-down' she experienced earlier.
1 wOuld hasten to add that the medical care and kindness my child received at the hospital were of the highest order; I never cease to be grateful to them. These few years later, it is encouraging that hospitals are making a .more enlightened approach; one can only hope that it will be more widely adopted.
It is a sobering thought that though we have made such great strides in medical science, as in all the sciences, we have seemed so reluctant to practise what can only be described as simple humanity.—Yours faithfully, GABRIELLE F. MoRRIsoN