Thursday, 24 February 2011

A week in the life of the NHS – tales from the front line

To know the NHS is to love the NHS. To know the NHS is to despair. To know the NHS is to live in hope, agony, ecstasy.

These few tales are all genuine, verified, and told to me in the short space of just one week. As usual – they demonstrate the good, the bad, and the ugly…

The consultant gastroenterologist: At a major teaching hospital who is unable to sleep because he’s been warned that he must lose some of his clinical staff. He is worried about them and the result that these redundancies will have on his patients. This lack of sleep is now taking a serious toll on his health and wellbeing.

The specialist nurse: Who commissioned a private facilitator to run a service improvement day and then found that even though the event had been a huge success, the funding for the project had been pulled so there were no funds to pay the facilitator. The private contractor understood and decided not to pursue the invoice. So the nurse offered to pay the facilitator with her own money as she felt responsible.

The senior nurse: who when challenged by a project manager about recording of patient outcomes enquired ‘Do you want service or care?’ The project manager gently pointed out both would be good.

The primary care trust administrator: who took voluntary redundancy and on her ‘goodbye’ email to colleagues signed off with – ‘remember patients first and foremost’

The care worker: who works in a residential home and took an elderly resident home for Christmas lunch as she had no family or friends nearby.

The administrator: responsible for sending pharmacy orders daily in a hospital trust, as he had done for over 10 years, by painstakingly retyping parts of the orders every day because he didn’t know how to ‘cut and paste’.

The project manager in the community: who is responsible for vital anti-obesity education for new mothers, leaving due to lack of funding but has no-one to handover two years’ work as they have all been made redundant.

The PCT manager: who came back from annual leave to find that all his key staff, whom he knew were up for voluntary redundancy, had been given the option to leave immediately. So they did.  With no handover.

And so the story of everyday folk in NHS world continues – the best of times, the worst of times…


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