An elderly relative needed an urgent hospital check-up – a blood clot and infection scare.
Negative, as it turned out – though a bit nerve-wracking as it happened.
Not that it was allowed to be a drama.
Without exception, hospital staff from reception to department administrators to nurses to doctors were all reassuring, calm and professional – nothing too much trouble – dignity and respect super-plus.
Doubly important when you’re over ninety and a bit unsure of this world whizzing round you.
Yes, there were waits. Long ones watching the clock while blood tests were processed and ultrasound time was found.
But things happened, somehow the busy schedule was opened up to accommodate this little old lady – all on top of the usual hectic pace that is the hospital norm.
The extra mile – every day
Yes, take a bow – everything about this experience was exemplary.
Nobody wants to be in hospital and it was two days out of everyday life. Tiring, drawn out – but inspiring in the company of staff amazingly adept at putting smiles on our faces.
In reassuring surroundings too.
Spend a few hours in a waiting room chair and you notice things like clean floors and dust-free furniture. Same thing with the inevitable loo-breaks. Clean, properly up kept, with every sanitising precaution visibly upheld.
All stuff that is really difficult in a super-busy place with several hundred people all doing different things to the best of their professional ability – dedicated, committed and involved like you’ll never find in a supermarket or clothing store.
Horrible people get treated nice too
Sure, there were people all around who moaned and complained.
One look at their faces though, it was obvious they will always whinge about something.
How have we become so awful that we have to bellyache all the time – especially with so many people trying to help us?
A lot of people seem to bad mouth the NHS – and maybe they have reason. But two full days going through the system without anyone putting a foot wrong seemed to be the norm in this hospital – not at all an exception.
So, a message to the moaners on behalf of NHS staff who are far too polite to say:
Accusing headlines still roll – long after the Mid Staffs disaster.
Sloppy hygiene, indifferent care, patients maltreated and sidelined.
Will nothing save the NHS from self-destruction?
Once more with feeling
It’s from reports like these that the Compassion in Practice programme was begun – a nation-wide initiative led by Jane Cummings, Chief Nursing Officer for England.
Compassion is so sadly lacking that a special drive is necessary to put it in place. To recognise that patients are human beings, not numbers. That feelings and sensitivities are involved.
All very laudable – but in reality, just another top-down knee-jerk from the rah-rah top dogs. To make it look like some moral responsibility is happening.
Yes, it’s an important project and the people involved in it are obviously committed to the hilt. It’s also doomed to token responses and indifference across the board.
Because though its focus is compassion, in the misguided real world we’ve created for ourselves, our culture no longer includes kindness.
We have become mean, selfish and bad-tempered in ways that would shock our parents. The product of our go-faster, results-driven, material-grabbing society.
And strong though it is, the Compassion in Practice programme is no match for our ingrained reflex of only looking out for Number One.
Its very credo demonstrates the background from which it has sprung: Care, Compassion, Competence, Communication, Courage and Commitment.
Take out “Compassion” and it could be any double-speak marketing plan from selling life insurance to toothpaste. Our sales teams care, we bring you the best through Competence, Communication, Courage and Commitment.
You’ve been a customer. You’ve heard it before.
All those invisible words strung together to be saluted while the company hymn is sung. Meaningless promises of nothing from their overuse. Right over the heads of patients and medical staff alike.
A real issue
Which is a crying shame because it IS important. Compassion, that is.
People ARE lying in hospital and suffering unnecessarily.
Ignored, unattended and forgotten because that is the way we treat everything in our online, mobile-obsessed, narcissistic society.
More like an aching nag as you go through the day. It even disappears when you’re not thinking about it.
Hardly there at all.
Yet you’re one of the 138 people who crowded into your local A&E this morning – and grinding your teeth as the four-hour waiting period winds on and on.
But just look at that crowd.
Desperation stakes, right?
Just trying to keep pace with a mob like that is why the NHS is hiring overflow doctors at £3,200 a shift and nurses at £1,900 a day.
And before you throw a blue fit, the kind of shift these people are in for is twelve hours. Half a day on your feet, snatched moments for a bite to eat, no chance for coffee – and what do you mean, time to go to the loo?
Well how else to solve the overload except throw money at it?
Your money when it comes down to it – it comes off your taxes.
Yes, it’s damn stupid – but just be careful where you point that finger in choosing why this is happening.
Not enough doctors, why?
Too many patients, why?
Bored, selfish, couldn’t care less
Because all this heaving mass of people reckon A&E is where they need to be.
Accident and Emergency – excuse our snigger.
Not crisis handling centres of last resort but first stop for minor worries and social difficulties.
A call to the local Doc reveals – Missed Appointments for February:
Blood Tests 55
Too busy with Turkish dancing classes. Or Pilates. Or bridge at the Leisure Centre.
T&N, not A&E
Twinges and Niggles, more like.
And failure of everywhere else to take care of the problem.
No sticking plasters in the bathroom cabinet. Too lazy to go to the chemist. Not prepared to wait at the GP’s clinic. So mosey on down to A&E.
It’s the same with all the emergency services.
They’re there to handle real issues – people dying or under bodily threat.
But ask the cops or the fire brigade.
Overwhelmed by trivia or mischief-making nonsense.
It may not be abuse or threatening behaviour. But it’s often the nearest thing to it. The pot calling the kettle black.
People acting like hooligans – and that’s just in the reception areas.
Walk to your appointment and you can’t escape it. Because even listening with half an ear, behind closed doors it’s worse.
Swearing, insults, they’re all par for the course.
Death of respect
And – surprise, surprise – it’s not usually your yobs or chavvy mums on the case.
It’s the potty-mouthed posh and jumped-up big deals. Looking like they own the place and don’t want it. “I’ve been waiting here thirty minutes, when will you people start doing your jobs?”
It died years ago, if it ever existed.
Every day, staff face a never-ending tide of rude, unpleasant and downright selfish behaviour from people who never consider that others might be important too.
Or even that someone else’s life-threatening condition might be slightly more important than their own twisted ankle – caught in a doorway because they weren’t looking where they were going.
The forgotten magic word
Now ask yourself, is it any wonder when staff get bad-mouthed all the time, that full-service attention is sometimes allowed to slip? Especially at the lower end of the scale, where jobs are often drudges and the only way is up?
Though the public may not believe it, staff are people too. And if your life is nothing but bedpans and cleaning toilets, that extra five minutes on your tea-break can be the only thing that keeps you sane.
Think hard as you walk through the corridors. When was the last time you heard the magic word?
In this world, “Please” and “Thank You” are swearing of the worst kind. (Tweet this)
What the heck, they’re only NHS – they’ll never understand. If you really want attention, best to stand in the middle of the place and yell “Shop!”
OK, there are exceptions. In an organisation of 1.3 million people like the NHS, they’re inevitable. Here and there don’t-care individuals that the tabloids haven’t exposed yet.
But against these embarrassments, most of NHS staff are themselves exceptional.
Because doing this job ain’t the same as your nine-to-five marketing board game.
Dead, or dedication
It takes seven years to become a doctor. Five or six to become a nurse.
Then you’ve got your internship and a whole run of other hurdles before you’re allowed to fly. Not forgetting of course that you have to keep updating yourself to stay qualified.
On top of that, the hours are long, breaks are short or non-existent, you may even forget to know what sleep is all about.
And yet some of them – the more super-dedicated and professional – actually volunteer for more. Hundreds applied to work in Africa fighting Ebola, one of the most dangerous and deadly diseases in the world.
So what have they done to deserve rudeness and four-letter words from their own countrymen who they’re only trying to help?
Looks like minding some P’s and Q’s might be in order.
Complain about the NHS, we’ve brought it on ourselves.
Another scandal. Whistleblowers. People dying in thousands. Claims of negligence, malpractice and mismanagement.
Are we all more at risk than we know?
Because the NHS is no ordinary organisation.
Behind its doors, 1.3 million professionals handle over 1 million patients every 36 hours. (Tweet this)
On that kind of scale, problems and hiccups are inevitable.
Just think of the pressure. The clock is ticking, people need attention. Staff take short cuts, managers go for easy options, safety procedures get overlooked.
So now there’s another hoo-hah about failures, and patients “too scared” to complain.
Regrettable, yes. Unforgivable, certainly. In some cases, possibly criminal.
Except that for an organisation the size of the NHS, complaints are inevitable and actually essential.
Take everybody’s pet wail and squawk – A&E.
In just one year, it handles 22 million patients and up – most of them inside the official 4 hour waiting period.
That’s more than 2,500 an hour – or around 40 a minute – 365 days a year, 24/7.
How many fast food outlets can equal that?
Try ordering a double burger and chips at McDonalds and expecting them in 60 seconds – at the same time as 40 other seriously hungry dudes are yelling for theirs.
And McDonalds get complaints too. Every big organisation does.
They actually need them.
Complaints are necessary
And as a customer, it’s kinda like your duty to complain.
Because at that kind of turnover, how else can anyone know that something is wrong?
Everything is happening too fast for even eagle-eyed perfectionists to notice, so it’s up to each of us to press the buzzer when things glitch.
So if there’s moaning and yelling going on about the NHS, be thankful.
Something is getting attention and something will be done about it.
Sure, it’s scary that it involves doctors and hospitals and people’s lives.
At least it’s out in the open and not hushed up any more.
And how many big manufacturers have not tried to get away with that?
Nowadays even BMW and Toyota are not afraid to issue a total recall.
If there is a problem, it needs to be fixed.
Being open and honest about it restores confidence.
And not everything in the NHS is a train-smash like Mid Staffs.
Going in to hospital for an op?
In 2014, compared to Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and USA, the NHS was rated as best by the Commonwealth Fund for efficiency, effective care, safe care, coordinated care, patient-centred care and cost-related problems.
So bad that London is the recognised TB capital of Europe – the second most common cause of death world-wide after HIV/AIDS.
Consumption it used to be called. The wasting disease of the poor in Dickensian times.
But TB’s been around a hell of a lot longer than that.
Curse of the ancients
It tops the Who’s Who of killer diseases back to biblical times and beyond: tuberculosis (TB), leprosy, cholera, smallpox, rabies, malaria, pneumonia, influenza, measles and the Black Plague.
In fact tubercular decay has been found in the spines of Egyptian mummies from 3000 BC.
It’s the longest-running bacteria war in the history of humanity.
But it’s one we can win in nearly every case. Even for those so down on their luck the only way forward seems like feet-first.
The anti-TB hit team
You may not have heard of Find&Treat – another team of NHS heroes who work nationwide, fighting TB for those who need it most – homeless people, drug abusers, alcoholics, helpless migrants and ex-cons.
No, they’re not a Halloween outfit. They’re dedicated professionals – out there with mobile X-ray units day and night to locate the 10,000 sufferers every year with confirmed TB.
It’s no surprise it’s the disease of the poor.
We all of us interact with bacteria everyday – some good, some bad – a miraculous balance held in check by our immune systems.
But things work against you when you’re a have-not.
Not enough food, not enough liquids, no defence against the cold, zero chance to keep yourself clean.
Any one of those can throw the body out of balance.
Next thing, the cough that spells the end – unspeakable stuff in your spit, very often blood.
Streptomycin in combination with others to get round antibiotic resistance – bedaquiline and delamanid and many others – a vital defence against MDR-TB (multiple drug-resistant tuberculosis).
And if that doesn’t work, there’s surgery – removing fluid-filled bullae from the lungs – simultaneously reducing the number of bacteria and increasing drug-exposure to the remainder. Take that, you murderous scum.
But getting well is not easy – especially if you’re sleeping rough and living on the streets.
Which is where the Peers come in – recovered TB patients who know how hard it is to find support. So they give it themselves in advice and encouragement, persuading the homeless to get checked and receive treatment.
If the ward is already shut and patients are out, you can probably claim it back in an hour – all bacteria and viruses gone – 99.9999% germ free, to a Sterility Assurance Level of Log 6.
If the ward is occupied, it can be done in sealed-off sections, doubling up the beds for the 40 odd minutes the stuff needs to work and time to vent out afterwards. Again 99.9999% germ free, to a Sterility Assurance Level of Log 6.
To good to be true?
Ask the team at Salford Royal, where they started using the stuff in the haemotology unit back in 2013.
When the hospital’s record in reducing infection levels became so impressive they earned a special report on the BBC’s Breakfast TV.
An automated dispersal unit about the size of a small wheelie-bin releases a super-fine mist of charged particles finer than water. The mist is boosted with colloidal silver, actively grabbing at bacteria and virus cells – ripping them apart and oxidising their guts out.
Spread is everywhere, treating the total room – the entire air space – as well as under, around and behind all furniture and fittings.
In just seconds it kills all the nasties: MRSA, c. difficile, e. coli and of course norovirus. Ebola too, though you’ve probably got that well isolated.
Twenty minutes and the place is sterile, safe for everyone. (Tweet this)
Useful stuff when you think of these infections and how resistant they’re becoming to antibiotics. Prevention instead of cure.
Because yes, the new discovery of Teixobactin might pull us back from a return to the Dark Ages, but it will still take a while to get here.
Results now, now, now
To get hydrogen peroxide treatment right NOW, the guy with the hot line is Jon Knight on his mobile at 07776 451222.
You’re already heroes, coping with all this – you don’t need a norovirus wipeout, just as you start seeing daylight.
In the euphoria of the festive season, you might have missed it.
A telling report that the number of NHS managers earning more than £300,000 a year has doubled, with some pulling down a whopping £620,000.
Obscene amounts of money
Frankly, the idea that ANYONE earns more than a tenth of that is pretty disgusting. And yes, that includes the Prime Minister at £142,500.
Because none of these are your rank-and-file NHS do-ers. They’re not doctors or specialists either, not one of them is involved in the actual practice of making people well.
These are top-level “executives” brought in on the advice of “consultants” – and paid an outlandish fortune for “high calibre” expertise at short notice.
Unhealthy business practice
And “consultant” of course does not mean an expert in the medical sense – but a management consultant, whose only connection to anything vaguely medical might be a thing called a balance “sheet”.
Sad cases, these guys. Even on mega-buck salaries they can’t manage their own lives, often demanding even more.
Put that against nurses and midwives, who have yet to receive the 1% pay rise they were hoping for in 2014.
Yup, you got it. It’s the non-medical side of the NHS that’s soaking up all the money.
So don’t go bad-mouthing A&E departments because they can’t get through the deluge of winter patients needing attention. Go chuck rocks at the managers who failed to provide facilities and resources for them to do their job properly.
Do they doctor the books too?
Gross mismanagement? You better believe it.
This item from The Telegraph is just the tip of the iceberg: ‘Medway Foundation Trust, recently named as having one of the worst A&Es in the country according to patient surveys, paid Nigel Beverley rates of £1,740 a day until he left just before an inspection found A&E in a “state of crisis”‘.
Unfortunate isn’t it, that GBH is against the law?
Except such monsters have no place in hospitals, or anywhere near one.
The only rightful place for them is buried under the sewage of their own making.
Sick as in not well, feeling ill, under the weather.
Because if you’re well, or only slightly poorly, you’ve no business wasting NHS time.
This is winter, see? When the NHS is really over-stretched.
Cold weather, lots of breathing problems, the seasonal bash of norovirus – and boozed-up party-goers with injuries from fights, accidents or liver-crashes.
All on top of the usual load of people needing operations, treatment for disease, controlled recuperation, or long-term care.
If none of these are you , then stay the hell out. Trivial problems just kick the whole system into overload.
Unless of course, you’re one of those workaholics in denial. Taking a big chance, but trying not to think about it.
You know you’re sick, but you’re swamped at work. Or maybe you fear for your job if you take time off.
Wellness doesn’t help
Yeah, yeah, so your company has a wellness programme. You go to the gym, follow their salady diets, fake the medicals or duck them.
But you’re at your desk six days a week at 7 am, work through regularly until 10 pm, always burning the candle at both ends.
Always with a sniffle too, because your resistance is low. Tired out of your mind, with no resilience. Tummy complaining, but you drag yourself around. How long before you give yourself a heat attack?
You need a doctor and you know it. And you’re probably dragging your colleagues down with you – a misplaced work ethic that costs UK businesses £29 BILLION a year.
You see, just by being ill you put others at hazard.
Your company might have wellness procedures and care about health.
Colleagues at risk
But betcha a million quid they’ve got nothing to get rid of harmful germs spreading around in the workplace. A quick vacuum and a wipedown and that’s your lot. All those viruses and bacteria just waiting to bring somebody down.
And the rate you’re going, you could trigger an epidemic.
Which means you need the NHS as a matter of urgency. And your employer needs to hike up hygiene levels before half the staff join you.
Like HEPA filters in the air conditioning to take out the germs. Or a nightly mist-up with hydrogen peroxide to make the whole place sterile. Or both, for 24 hour protection. More effective than exercises in leotards, tracking your weight, and making you eat grapes.
So that if you insist on going to work, at least those around you stand a fighting chance.
Bet on yourself
Go on, get yourself to the doctor. You’re genuine, not pulling a sickie. And the whole NHS exists exactly for people like you. You’ve proved your worth, now invest in yourself.
And if your boss still can’t come to terms with that, you’re working in the wrong place anyway.
Do it NOW, before something happens and you can’t.