The NHS in the UK
My dad’s had a bit of time of it this last year with his health, so we’ve been vey grateful to have the NHS here in the UK to draw upon. I’m a huge advocate for nursing staff particulary and feel they are incredibly underpaid and undervalued by our government. We have had some amazing care and attention given to us so because of this I’ve been loathe to criticize the NHS.. thus far…. We’ve also had some pretty rubbish experiences though and every now and then it is very hard not to have a sense of humour crisis about some of the things that have happened to us. However, rather than just write a long (and it would be long) list of ‘issues’, instead I’ll sum up in a couple of paragraphs or what I’d do if I ran the NHS!
Improving the UK NHS
The UK NHS could be made better by:
- Ensure the right hand knew what the left hand was doing. I’m of the view that this could save the NHS billions and the absence of it is the single biggest flaw in the system. This could be achieved by:
- Having everyone’s records centralized electronically. It was only two weeks ago that a very officious appointment maker in the Parkinson’s department informed me that my dad had never been to Parkinson’s appointments because there was nothing on record. My dad has had Parkinson’s for 15 plus years. I think the officous appointment maker was probably mistaken!
- Assigning a specific GP to a patient and then a single follow on consultant to make ‘big’ decisions. It strikes me that everyone is so desperate to ‘cover their own back’ that patients are too quickly passed around departments. It can feel like that this is just to get the patient ‘off the hands’ of the doctor in charge of the department they were originally seen by. Also there seem to be little or zero follow up. Thus, for example, a patient is sent to be evaluated about their suitability for a pacemaker, when knowledge of other conditions would immediately show that it isn’t suitable.
- Completely overhaul home care provision. I’ve already blogged about care for the elderly, but there is much that could be done to help people with long term illnesses or the elderly at home. Again, have a key contact person who can assist with navigating the chaos of multiple providers of different types of care. There is so much on offer (be it district nurses, morning and night carers, disability care, mental health services and a ton more), but navigating through it all can be so confusing that ultimately people get overlooked and missed. One task I set myself this trip home was to create a list of all the different contacts we have and might need for dad. Despite having, what my dad would describe as ‘ a string of degrees’ it has proven way to hard for me.
- Personalise care and have smaller hospital wards so that the patient is likely to become familiar with the staff on duty on it. I think having so many nursing staff can be disorientating and unhelpful.
And finally I’d:
- Have a universl code of conduct that disallows big sighs and the creation of the vibe of you’re a difficult customer when you ask questions. To the families concerned the patient is not just one amongst many.
Actually that’s probably not as insignficant and facetious as it sounds. I do feel that the NHS has reached such a crisis point of probable underfunding and definite understaffing in some areas, (along with very poor deployment of staff in others), that patients very often feel that they are a nuisance and that is at least in part created from the vibe they get from the people attending to them. Many staff members are legitimately at the end of their tether, so consequently when using the service the patient senses that the staff are ‘hard done by’. There’s no wonder many older people don’t want to ‘bother their doctors’. Obviously most staff are kind, caring, down to earth, we get it and of course you should fight your corner for your family type of people, but I’ve also lately encountered a few of the othes who unconsiciously emit the negative vibe! There’s the:
- Puffing and panting, I’ve got so much to do and I’m walking so quickly, and I really can’t stop and talk to you type.
- Please go to the next counter, yes, I know it is too high for the wheelchair, but I’m eating a yoghurt and I don’t want to move type. (This is in areas where staff could be perhaps better deployed.)
- I’ll do anything to avoid eye-contact type because yes, I also know there are 77 people in the waiting room already and you’ve just arrived. (That was the case today.)
But they’re relatively few and far bewteen and are countered by the:
- There’s also the, yes that doctor was a twit, but I’ll explain things for you properly, life saving type. We encountered her too today. Thank you.
Anyway, I”ve wittered on enough. For anyone who knows me, I guess it makes a change from listening to me spout about what I’d do if I was in charge of education! (By the way, I know my comments are naive and it’s not really that easy to fix the greatest free medical service in the world, but I’m trying to fulfil my June challenge of not overworrying and analysing!) But just to finish . did I mention that THERE IS A HUGE MAJORITY OF WONDERFUL HEALTH CARE WORKERS WHO DO WONDERFUL WORK in the NHS. (Bother, think I’ve just failed my June challenge!) I do like to be fair though. If I did rule the NHS I would definitely give ‘those wonderfully caring and nurting vocational types’ a 100% payrise. I’m sure the Bankers’ bonsues would cover it! Is the NHS Nifty, Healing and Successful? Well I’d like to think it would be if I ruled the world!