Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Pledge

It's everywhere nowadays..you turn around and you hear about it.."NHS Change Day..a movement being driven by front-line staff to improve the NHS". I must say I have never been a blind believer, in fact, as with most things of my life, I do have views on it...never been an evangelist supporter of it as the slightly older cynical side looked at some of the pledges..and asked "So what"? For me, every single thing boils down to one thing..has it actually improved patient care? Has it actually made any difference? I have spent 4 years and a bit in management and have grown tired of so called "leaders" spouting clever words on power-points, come up with projects which look swish but in the end has done little for patients..for sure, it has improved the working conditions of some..and that is absolutely fine as long as its helped improve patient care. If not, then they have been clever words, use of political skills to further ones' careers..little else.

Anyway, back to NHS Change Day..I have asked some of the pioneers of this idea as to what it has actually done apart from create a slogan...and I have done my own background research...and then mostly found people involved with it who are young, passionate and primarily burning with the desire to actually make a difference...less of people who are driven simply by idealism but more by the desire to help. So, in my book? Its worth an effort, worth joining the cause, worth seeing whether a personal "pledge" would help.

So, at the very outset, lets put a disclaimer..the idea below is NOT mine. I read about it somewhere in an article written by Dr David Kerr, one of the most innovative diabetologists I have ever met..always ahead of his time. So, with due acknowledgement to my first Diabetes Consultant, I would like to try and do this for my patients...otherwise known as "The Pledge"..
For every patient admitted under me on the ward, how would it work if they or their relatives or next of kin received a "menu card" which started by a promise from me that the ward would make all efforts to make their stay as comfortable as possible. How about having clearly documented times for drug rounds, times for food rounds, times when the medical review will happen, my name, contact number and email for queries...and designated times each day to discuss progress of their care directly with me?

Would it work? I don't know and for sure there are few hurdles to cross as regards discussing with the ward staff about feasibility...but the bits I can personally do..will surely happen. About 4 years ago when I started getting more involved with the adolescent service in diabetes, I kicked off the process of giving patients my emails and phone. I was told by all and sundry how that would disturb my lifestyle, how I would be inundated by patient calls/emails...the real fact? It has never happened. In the most, patients are respectful of my time and use it when they need to..in fact, the feedback has been very positive.which has enabled me to roll it out to my endocrine patients. So why not now extend it to the ward patients?

This indeed will be interesting and for sure I will feedback how it goes. As a department, over the last 5 years, we have received only 5 complaints and comparison to others show we are nearly 20 times proportionately less. That fills me with pride as that showcases, I feel, a good department staffed by patient friendly, passionate staff. It also gives me confidence to put my name, phone and email to the patients admitted. Doesn't cost a dime but could help allay a lot of anxiety for patients being admitted...so why not give it a try? After all...what's to lose?

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