I thought I would take this opportunity to write a blog about our much loved and strongly debated NHS.
Using my recent experience as a patient, my knowledge as an NHS employee and my love of writing to bring you a unique point of view and some food for thought.
During my stay I heard a fair bit of moaning and groaning, but then they did the drug round and all was quite again!! Cymbal clash I’m here all week…
No but seriously there was a fair bit of moaning going on in my ward, with each individual totally committed to having their voices heard by. Mostly I must say by the wrong people.
A few gripes were initially seen to a novice listener as rather unnecessary such as “ Gosh wasn’t they noisy last night? How on earth do they expect us to sleep ”?
Now I have to admit at this point to being part of their sleep problem. You see I returned from theatre late and my blood pressure did its usual how low can you go routine. This meant that in order to stop my brain and other vital organs from receiving too little blood and giving up on me (just like every bloke did in the 80’s) they had to keep a very strict eye on me (just like my parents did in the 80’s).
This in turn meant that * Betty & Co didn’t get their guaranteed good nights sleep .Now the staff were neither unnecessarily noisy in providing this 24/7 service nor were Betty & Co wrong to voice their complaint. The nurses of course were not about to *announce my medical condition to them in order to validate their actions and neither should they have to.
* To be honest it might have worked as they would soon have got bored and been asleep in no time.
What needed to happen was Betty & Co needed realise that they were not synonymous in their role as a patient in the ward and that one nights interrupted sleep is to perhaps be expected during their hospital stay.
Observation point one. Could this have been communicated in patient information prior to stay to perhaps manage patient’s expectations?
Fact… No if this was to happen the media would immediately report on hospitals no longer respecting the rights of patients. Hospital warns patients of potential nightclub conditions during their stay I can see the headlines now.
Observation point two…. Betty & Co could always have voiced their dissatisfaction to the staff rather than the whole room and any visitors willing to listen. This would then have given the staff the knowledge they would require in order for them to make any necessary change.
Realisation………. The gap between knowledge and understanding will always be present and sadly patients will feel cheated because of this. The likes of Betty & Co remember the NHS prior to 1948 when if you were ill then you had to pay to get treated. This sadly makes them less likely to complain at service level. Sadly for fear of it affecting their care. They do not take the service for granted and value it too much to complain.
In other news we also had a….
MAJOR incident, which involved biscuits being substituted for cake at morning tea round. Personally I embraced the substituted Cranberry muffin not only was it much nicer than the Malted Milk but it also gave me something to do for the next two hours as I picked it out of my bottom brace.
Now moving onto the drama…..
One of the ladies had a certain condition which required her to eat a plain biscuit mid morning. Now we have already established that none were available, so rather than explain this condition she took the ever travelled path of let’s moan when the staff member leaves the room. Seeing that the solution was a mere call bell press away, I acted as peacekeeper and alerted a staff member to the incident.After all I had kept them awake all night , and I needed to be accepted into the “gang”.
Within 10 minutes some biscuits were found and the drama had abated. Whether the patient felt that the housekeeper was also updated on everybody’s medical history and had dropped a rich tea sized ball in omitting to administer this I am not sure.Neverless she came to no harm and actually received two packets and was therefore elated . One of which she slipped under her pillow . No doubt she anticipated me keeping her awake for a second night and thought she may as well have dinner and a show.
Now Betty & Co you may now be feeling are a lot of trouble … and I can tell you now that you would be totally wrong in thinking this . You see Betty and Co probably went to their GP many months before getting to this very point . They would have waited for numerous appointments to come through probably even had some of them cancelled along the way, been put through tests, and on top of this and had to arranged things at home before even reaching the point of being an inpatient. Their journey as a patient started a long time ago and we need to remember that.
Their state of anxiety was high before they even reached the hospital entrance. Now on top of this they are now faced with dealing with an invasive procedure, probably months of rehab, dependants at home which they are worrying about and the potential of even more pain. These ladies deserve their voice and the respect that comes with their often long journey.
Betty & Co also had a fair amount to say about our morning nurse whose bedside manner clearly got left at home that day. She didn’t look you in the eye and she hardly spoke she mumbled .I did however notice when she approached my bed her snivelling into a tissue and her bright red nose, yeah you guessed it Nursey nurse was ill herself. Now as a patient I didn’t want her there, hell no I had multiple other problems and a cold wasn’t going to be one of them no thank you. Not only that but she appeared rude and not very caring at all , not the best advertisement for the hospital .I am glad to say she was sent home before she even finished the drugs round.
But the likelihood is our nursey was more than likely not thinking of herself or her needs that day. She was probably thinking of the cover they would struggle to get if she called in sick and was mindful of letting her team down. So rightly or wrongly she turned up for work. On this occasion I would say bad move lady because I am sure what was probably an outstanding nurse came across that morning as the opposite.
There was one lady whom had been resident on the ward for over 10 days and this had become her home, as I was wheeled into the ward I heard her gleeful cry of “ Ooohhh we got a young un “ (damn I need that lighting in my bedroom). She noted everything that happened and had assigned herself as the ward ‘” BOSS”. Visitors may have looked at this lady as a bit of a busy body. But the staff got it right they had banter with her, knew her little gripes and had formed quite a bond with her .
She wasn’t a busy body at all she was a lady whom had no choice to be anywhere else but there and so she filled her days with making the best of what she had at her disposal. We have all done that game of making up stuff in your head about who you think people are when you are sat waiting for a long time, (I once linked a whole room to being one family and had names and jobs for them all, when a strange man arrived and kissed the mother of my family full on the lips the given husband didn’t bat an eyelid so clearly it was a funny set up, I still wonder if they are still all together today). . This lady just let it leave her head, and through this she was able to cope a bit better than sitting there in silence or listening to the latest tunes on Scalpel FM.
What I saw during my stay was the largest organisation in Europe doing everything it can to make its customers satisfied. It’s a first class organisation that will forever be under the spotlight sadly not always for the right reasons.
I not only work for the NHS I am the NHS and you are my boss, I pay my own wages and you pay my wages and that of my peers as they do mine.
If I see something wrong I will challenge, if I see something great I will praise. If I don’t understand I will ask. And I would encourage you all to do the same, sometimes just by asking for something to be explained once again to you, or asking why a dressing has taken so long to change can not only help you to understand what is happening to you but it will also help your care giver to realise that when they say “ I need to change your dressing “ you will expect it to be done shortly after and that if not completed a few hours later will see that nurse coming across as incompetent.
What I saw during my stay was a bunch of caring people each with their own skill set, I saw the jokers, the sympathisers. I saw a Physiotherapy team turn a lady from “ no way can I use crutches I am so scared I don’t trust them “ to “ Can I try to walk further with them now “ in less than 30 minutes. The tenacity, the explaining, the reassurance the endless amounts of patience all coming together to make one hell of a team. I saw a group of patients sacred , vulnerable , pre-occupied and all coming across differently to other by their actions.
I fell in love with Betty & Co to be honest via their actions they taught me that we can all take a bit more time to listen a bit more time to ask if there are any questions that others may have . And above all else that grit and determination will get so far, but laughing and off loading with the girls even at 80 years old is one of the best medicines yet.
* No real names have been used during this blog.
I for one am proud to work for the NHS , and as a patient I am forever grateful that I have this service available 24/7 for me and my loved ones. You can help all NHS organisations become better by giving feedback however small you may feel it is every instance of feedback good or bad helps departments and staff members grow. And it is through growth and constant improvement that we really can make a difference.
Please have a look and share this video it speaks far more than any blog ever would.