Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Florence Nightingale We Need You!

Are we so surprized that Colchester NHS is under fire on cancer patient care. Well I am not after what I have gone through as a cancer patient in London. 
On Thursday gone I was invited to the Imperial College, South Kensington to discuss patient care and how it should be improved. The whole experience of cancer patient care was a hot topic, but truth be known I did not know how bad it was until that day. The fact only 20 people turned up were an insult to the student doctor who arranged it, but the other two speakers who were a consultant and a Macmillan nurse made it an interesting two hours.
The statistics for London are little to be desired. London has the poorest outcomes of treatment and aftercare in the UK compared to surrounding areas in the UK. The questions amongst medical staffs at that talk was, is there serious room for improvement, and how? How can we change attitudes and improve patient cancer care?
I said it all boils down to communication breakdown. The conveyor belt of patients’ means emotional support breakdowns as well as cultural attitudes are invading hospitals. The prime proof is look at public transport in London. You walk on a bus up north you say good morning you are greeted with a smile even a reply. If you say good morning down south to a bus driver he keeps his head straight ahead with zero emotion. This exact same attitude is mimicked within hospitals in London.
I said you cannot expect perfection where treatment is concerned, but a warm bedside manner is the beginning of a patients’ experience. 
When you approach a patient’s bed without a smile and an understanding ear they think you don’t care, so they don’t care and they treat nursing staff likewise which means the attitudes on that ward fall. Treatment takes a dip because no-one takes their time because the job becomes a chore rather than about saving lives. Hospital staffs feel they are under appreciated and patients feel neglected/ignored and trust between patient and doctor is broken. There is no pride in London hospitals only number crunching and the pressure to move the patient on.
To create a coherent harmony within NHS hospitals we most start communicating across the board starting with a warm smile which helps with building trust.  Not only that, but when you mess up apologise. I have not received one apology over the treatment I received. The only option I was given was to complain to PAL. 
The consultant speaking at this talk said how long do you think it will take to make the changes needed to improve patient care. A student doctor replied six months. She explained she would not have a job if it was six months and it would take three years just to see improvements in the NHS on cancer patient care. It all fell on whether the consultants, nurses, doctors, cleaners, porters and receptionists were willing to make that change.
I tried to explain to these young doctors that they can remain being sheep by aspiring to be those consultants that don’t care about quality of care.  Or make a change…
You see it is not the National Health Service that is at fault, it all falls on the individuals that represent the NHS.
If Florence Nightingale was alive today I wonder what changes she would make.

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