Dazed and Confused! – why the NHS makes it hard for patients to get it right

minor injury sign

The DVLA tells us that these signs are for  ‘INFORMATION’. You must have seen a sign like this? You may have one in your town. This one made me so angry, I stopped my car  (safely I may add) to take this photo.

A sign for information…. Really?

So…. the big RED rectangle with a big WHITE ‘H’ on it, creates a reaction. The colours create imagery; the phrase  ‘blood and bandages’ I can hear my mum say.

The red means URGENT, STOP, And EMERGENCY. Red is a colour of strength, it is the colour of blood and it creates an emotion.  It is a passionate colour. It is telling us something  – take note!

The ‘H’ will mean HOSPITAL even to people who can’t read.  Hospital is an emotive word, a word that creates a picture in one’s mind. Hospitals are places of births, deaths, emergency, accidents, wards, corridors, blood, life, operations, sadness, happiness, doctors, nurses, the elderly, babies, healing, care, compassion, fear, love…all of this and more.

A hospital, the NHS, staffed with professionals, people to help us, free at the point of care and open every day, 24 hours a day.

But hang on a minute ……….

This sign, to those who can read, tells us it is NOT for a hospital but a MINOR INJURY UNIT. If my child is hurt, that’s not minor, that’s important!  My interpretation of course, but I’m allowed that. I may think less rationally if I am worried, upset or in a hurry to resolve a situation…..and I’m sure I am not alone in that.

Our belief is that our NHS Hospitals are open 24/7, 7 days a week… this one says it is “NOT 24 hours”! My question is then, when IS it open?  Is it 2 hours a day or 23 hours a day? One day a week? Or is it 2 – 4 hours between Mondays to Friday with lunch at 1pm-2pm having a reduced staff  ‘out of hours’ (and a shift that may not be able to prescribe medication) at a weekend??

How very helpful NHS!

So, people turn up at A&E because it is OPEN 24 hours. We know A&E will deal with things that are not MINOR.  People will do that very thing; turn up at the place they understand, they trust, they know the opening hours of…. and we, the NHS…shout at them for ‘inappropriately using NHS services’!

I won’t now share thoughts on communication of urgent care centers, ‘out of hours’ services, NHS Direct (a fan!!), 111 (jury is out) but it begins my argument for appropriate communications and social marketing. (For more see first blog on urgent and emergency care at Easter).

I believe in the NHS 100%.  I understand the pressure and constraints (As I worked on urgent & emergency QIPP programme at DH, I really do understand, really I do!) but we must do something about how we communicate to patients…

…And at least stop telling them THEY are wrong!

And in the best style possible ……….I share the Led Zeppelin masterpiece that is Dazed & Confused. This is a 10 minute live track, enjoy and revel in the confusion!



About Michaela Finegan

Passionate about the NHS and making it better; for patients and staff. An avid fan of social media with the belief that, along with social marketing, social media the potential to positively affect how we use the NHS and how it provides services to us. First love is music, spending as much time as possible at gigs and festivals. Enduring, everlasting love for my two beautiful sons. All views my own.
This entry was posted in call to action, communication, social marketing, urgent and emergency care and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Dazed and Confused! – why the NHS makes it hard for patients to get it right

  1. Michaela Firth says:

    Reblogged this on Michaela Firth.

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