Saturday, 5 March 2011

The spirit of the NHS

Vince Lombardi, the legendary football coach once said ‘The achievements of an organisation are the results of the combined effort of each individual’

The combined efforts of the neuroscience departments of The Royal Free Hospital were very much in evidence on Thursday evening. A pub quiz was organised by the stroke coordinator, Kerry Thompson and her colleagues, to raise funds for Headway, a brain injury charity. Around a dozen noisy teams were very ably controlled by the master of ceremonies, a handsome TV star, Jeremy Edwards.

We occupied a private room in an old fashioned English pub, the food was good, the wine and beer even better and the atmosphere great fun. As I struggled to help my friends answer a range of challenging questions I realised a couple of things:

Firstly – I’m rubbish at pub quizzes. I thought that David Bowie was 62 years old (he’s 64), that Napoleon died on Elba (it was St Helena) and had no idea that dendrology is the study of trees! What makes me even more of a hindrance is that I give the impression that I know what I’m talking about so it’s even more annoying when people believe my wrong answers!

Secondly – and much more important – I felt privileged to be part of an event filled with such energy for a worthy cause. The quiz teams were made up with doctors, nurses, therapists, administrators, and hangers-on like me – all who are associated with the Neurosciences services at this NHS hospital that was founded in 1828 (another question I got wrong) ‘to provide free care to those of little means’.

These NHS employees had all done a full day’s shift and are passionate about their work, their patients and are clearly a cohesive, caring team, (who also know how to have a good time of course). The evening was a great success and several hundred pounds were raised.

Of course, the combined efforts of these teams amounts to so much more than organising a pub quiz. There were also representatives from other London hospitals and stroke networks and the progress made in Stroke care in the capital has been stunning. London now leads any other major city throughout the world for thrombolysis (life and brain saving treatment for stroke patients).

When I recently finished a project with the NHS, I asked one of the service directors what she thought would happen as a result of all the planned changes. Her reply was a touch wistful but held some optimism ‘I just hope that the good people will stay, and make these reforms work somehow’.

An evening with these fantastic people and the spirit running through the event is cause to believe this could be true.


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