Friday, April 13, 2012

Does the patient actually care?

Provocative, isn't it? The title that is? And I know readers first instinct will be .."ooh, fella's now taking on the holy grail..the patients!!"....but hold fire, it isn't anything like that. The question I have always asked myself is whether as a patient one really cares which organisation you work for. I know I didn't when I was on the other end of the table, so to speak...remember feeling distinctly unwell after having come back from a trip to Goa. No one had the foggiest what was going on- all I had was high temperature and rigors before after a few days of investigations revealed it to be case of paratyphoid. What however struck me was the care shown to me by my GP, Consultant on MAU, the nurses, junior docs...and very few knew my title...and I was sitting there thinking...I actually don't care who you are, who you work for, what your skills are...but hey, thank you so much for making me feel better!

And that's what is the biggest bug bear of the NHS...multiple organisations, the essence of competition which has pit colleagues against each other, making enemies out of old friends, raising ambitions amongst clinical professionals to "expand their territories", develop grandeurs of Alexander the Great...which does make one wonder why such individuals can't concentrate on getting top quality care sorted where they are, rather than expansionist ideas...but I digress. We in the NHS want to learn from the private sector, we are told competition raises standards and surely there have been examples to support it too...but there comes a time when competition can also be counter-productive, when the essence of competing means someone has to lose, thus putting hard working professionals out of jobs, changing existing systems...while in the meanwhile if you ask the person who matters, the patient..the answer is likely to be.."Can't you just all get along together?"...

And there is the nub of the issue. We are quick to slate the private sector, damning them with faint praise when it suits us all...but there are also abundant examples where different organisations work together to make sure no one "loses out". Working together to make sure systems which work are not dismantled..so why can't we in the glorious NHS? I go back why we all went to do this job...and I know it does sound corny, but it was to help others. And I am going to say something controversial...I have yet to meet a single individual within the managerial world..be it a Commissioner, or your General Manager...who at the end of the day hasn't been trying to do exactly that. It sounds nearly blasphemous, doesn't it? But in my multiple roles, I have spent a lot of time with managers in different organisations who have been trying to help..their frustrations have been in clinicians not engaging with them appropriately...sounds familiar doesn't it? Same complaint from clinicians all the time....

So we all now work in silos...doctors, nurses, managers, organisations...while patients look on with amazement or bewilderment.But maybe, just maybe there is a chance organisations will become less relevant- and I for one, am quite excited that GPs will be taking over the reigns of the NHS. Good on them for taking up this challenge- and its our job to try and support them- not damn them at this stage with the negativity that they can't.Organisations don't provide integrated care, clinicians do...so maybe this may just be the chance...listen to the patient...he/she doesn't care who you work for...they just want to be seen, be made a bit better, be listened to.To those who read this..all I would encourage is to be true to what attracted you to this profession and use the present change to support those who are leading the NHS ...the rest will fall in place.

Your name tag which proudly demonstrates your organisations name means little...what matters..is the name of the kind soul who is trying their best to be there when needed. That's what the person opposite you will take away along with the thought of being cared for when the need was there. Trust me...I know it...and I speak as a patient, not a doctor.

1 comment:

  1. for me i've received some of my greatest care from junior doctors and some of my worse from consultants. i don't care what someone's seniority is as long as they know what they're talking about and don't screw up.

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