November 2023: Engage Britain has now merged with Demos. You can still find all our work from 2019-2023 here, but to get in touch or find out about our new ventures, go to

“Listen to the patient all the time”

“I had a doctor and he was the best doctor ever. He’s now retired. And one thing that he used to do with me… I always like to take a teddy with me when I go into hospitals. Especially if I know I’m go to stay, to feel more comfortable. And he’s actually a doctor, he’s like a little doctor, he’s got the gown on and… quite sweet. I was given it when I was a child. And I always carry this teddy and I don’t let anyone to see it now because I´m an adult…And he comes along and he says: she´s got that teddy. And he made sure that I every time I went into the theatre, that the staff knew: she’s got a teddy, it means a lot to her. Let her mum have it once she’s asleep. And he made sure, and I didn’t know this until he was retiring and my mum told me, that he told his staff exactly what I needed: this teddy is mine and they were to give it to my mum. I’ve never had that since by any doctor. And that was a big thing for me. So having that sort of, I don’t know what the wording is, but having that sort of understanding. Each person is different. So, you know, someone else might bring something else that is precious to them. It might not be a teddy, it might just be a necklace or something… And also, the other thing, letting the person who’s their carer… Yes, talk to the patient but let the carer know what’s going on. So that the carer can then explain once you leave the room. And also letting that person, that carer, come down to theatre with them. Because that stops since I’ve become an adult. And that’s one thing my mum tells them ‘She suffers panic attacks. I have to be with her until she goes to sleep’. And then they go, ‘Oh right, okay’. They don’t like it. But she comes down with me every time I go down and holds my hand side tight until I go off to asleep. And then she goes. So letting that happen. Continually just listening to the patients all the time.”