My jacket pin – that I do wear with pride
I spent the day with NHS England colleagues today. You know ‘us’ ? The NHS staff saved from redundancy, placed in new roles, with new job descriptions in new organizations, with new areas of work, in new work bases …you know ‘us’, a little bit scared, stressed, excited and optimistic all in equal measures.
I am not asking for any sympathy, I realize that in a country today we are lucky to have jobs. I feel lucky that I am in a job, being paid to do something where I feel I can make a difference and contribute to a greater good, our NHS. Our NHS, which is now 65; a pensioner of a service!
So what is my gripe? Well, I just want some positive reinforcement of what the NHS is doing!
To be honest, I am ‘sick’, totally ‘sick and tired’ of hearing what’s negative about our NHS.
I’m not stupid, neither are my colleagues! We KNOW what is wrong with the NHS. We know about Mid Staffs, we know about fragmented services, lack of staff on wards, the need for money in some areas, the need for improved care, the issues with ‘111’, the need for compassion and respect. We understand a mum does not want to wait in A&E for 3 hours and 55 minutes on a Friday night with a sick child. We understand some people don’t die where they wish, that people didn’t always get the food, the drugs and the care they should have.
We know why some of this has happened, and we also understand the ‘Politics’ and what a ‘hot potato’ the NHS is. That policy does not always align with the ‘real world’ and that peoples voices are not always heard. We know , and we try to work with it .
I accept that some of the NHS has NOT done their best. I agree the NHS is NOT perfect, but do people REALLY think NHS staff wake up each day with a plan to do a terrible job?
We know some things are not right …all we need to do is pick up the Daily Mail to be bombarded with such news (I must admit I cant do this as I come out in a rash!). I know a ‘good NHS story’ may not sell papers, but it will do a hell of a lot for the morale and motivation of the staff. As well as do a lot for the confidence and anxiety levels of a patient.
So as a leader, when things go wrong, what do you think is the best thing to do? Do you think on a daily basis, you should tell your staff what a rubbish job they are doing, that they are useless, uncaring uncompassionate beings? That it is their fault, or at least it is not YOUR fault that something has gone wrong?
What would Tesco or John Lewis do? I think they may apologise, attempt to rectify the problem, keep open and honest communication going and to keep listening. Learn from things; but turn a negative into a positive.
If your child does something wrong; fails an exam, falls off their bike, drops a glass, makes a spelling mistake, what would you do? Would you tell them they are stupid? Tell them they are useless? Or would you sit with them, talk to them, listen to them, help them understand what went wrong and how best to fix or improve next time?
We MUST listen to what people tell us, LEARN from it, keep communications channels open and do our best to FIX THE PROBLEM. And share this with others. We MUST look to what is good, yes learn from what didn’t work, but look for what DOES work.
Find the notice board in every ward, which shows the new ‘Thank You’ cards, consider the smiles and the appreciation when we deliver the service the patient expects. The relief on faces when something is done as promised. For every negative story we are faced with, find the ones that are positive.
Consider the ground breaking medical procedures we can give to our citizens, the IVF programmes, the artificial limbs, the drugs, the diagnostic tests, the transport in an ambulance or helicopter and (at the moment, mostly) without a bill.
Lets celebrate the good, share success.
So I am proud and also thankful. I am thankful for the surgeon in Oxford who cut away a brain tumor troubling my dear friend. Thankful for all the staff who cared for my mum when diagnosed with breast cancer, the nurses who administered radiotherapy with care and respect, the compassion of the District Nurse who quietly told me if was not a good idea to be too far away from my Mum as she ‘didn’t have long left’. This allowed us to spend time as a family, with my mum, at home for her last days. Giving my Mum the peace she wished for and in the place she wanted to be.
I am thankful for the people who safely delivered my two boys, and cared for one in Special Care Baby Unit. Thankful for those who supported me with dignity and empathy when I miscarried a baby. Appreciative of the nurse who asked if I wished to have the baby’s name recorded in a book of remembrance.
The GP who listened to me and promptly referred me ,over a Christmas period for diagnostic tests and the consultant who held my hand as I cried when I thought I had the same cancer that so cruelly took my Mum.
The care in A&E, late at night when my Dad was rushed in with suspected appendicitis, the porter that walked me to tea machine when I was tired I was lost. The nurse that placed her hand on my Dad’s shoulder, when he was frightened and worried about a procedure. These are just a few of MY experiences, across a few years. I am sure you have your own, some could have been better but I’m quite sure there is good in those experiences too. Imagine the positive experiences of the MILLIONS in our country since 1948!
Can we not just remember these too, bring these to mind as we work, as we communicate, as we share and we re-build our networks and community. I am in no way making any excuse for what has gone wrong and I feel so desperately sad and disappointed for anyone who has experienced poor quality or unsafe care. But we MUST consider the good too.
Positive thoughts and sharing a smile, a ‘good patient story’ is just as powerful. I want to remain ‘Proud of the NHS’, proud of what is happening each and everyday in practices, ambulances, hospital wards, the community …proud of emergency practitioners working through the night, those on call for any potential emergency, those who deal with drunks, abuse, and still administer and deliver good quality care, those who plan and improve services, proud of staff who keep our hospitals clean, proud of those who manage our finances.
I’m proud to be a part of our NHS.
Lets join together in being proud, lets be positive and lets do our utmost to fix what is broken, tired and poorly in our ‘pensioner NHS’. Make sure we have this service fit for our futures and that of our children and grandchildren.
Spend money like it was your own money, only commission or provide services you would wish your family and friends to receive!
BE POSITIVE, BE PROUD and at all times, remember we are here to serve others!
To conclude – a student nurse Molly Case, who expresses what it is like to be a nurse. Beautiful , a must watch . ‘Nursing the nation’ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XOCda6OiYpg
And some music , a little cheesy you may think , but I think it is an amazing song. What have YOU done today to make YOU feel proud? Heather Small – Proud