Sunday, 3 August 2008

Rowland replies – with his experience of the hospital as a patient’s parent in the late 1960s

It may be of interest to know that between Sept 1969 and January 1973 I served as a young prison officer at the Thorpe Arch prison directly opposite MHH. My middle son David who was born in Malta in 1968 with Telepes (club Foot) was actually operated on at MHH to correct the deformity. The Paediatric surgeon that carried out the operation, Professor Silk, an American on secondment to Leeds Infirmary, opened up the MHH obsolete operating theatre solely for that one operation.

I have to say at that time it was a totally different hospital from what I remembered but even so the visiting arrangements were by today's standards still harsh and unfeeling towards both the patient and the parents. After my experiences of MHH both my wife and myself made it quite clear that one of us would be staying with our child throughout and one of us did for almost a week until he was finally discharged.

My return to MHH was with mixed feelings hoping to make some sense of what happened to me there. Of course in 1973 it had changed considerably from what I remembered in 1950 and to be perfectly truthful it didn't hold the terrors that I thought it might. I was allowed to wander the grounds and hospital and as I did so I laid to rest some of the fears that I had. Personally speaking I am glad that the hospital was eventually pulled down and some better use made of the grounds. That may sound ungrateful especially of all the good things that came out of MHH and of the hundreds of children myself and my son included that benefited so greatly from its existence but I don't mean it to. It's just the way I feel.