For reasons I won’t go into, I recently had a six day stay at Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton.
The NHS often come in for some bad press but I saw absolutely no evidence of that during my stay. Nurses essentially run the place and they’re as busy as hell. They lead a hectic working life and yet go about things calmly and professionally at all times.
The press often paints the NHS as a disorganised shambles. Maybe the higher echelons of the organisation are as such but on the shop floor it runs like an efficient, well-oiled machine. As a patient, feeling ill, all you can really do is watch and what I saw was expert levels of communication. Through the various shifts I encountered, everyone was aware of my problems and my needs, even nurses who I was only seeing for the first time. Drips were administered like clockwork, obs were taken almost to the minute and the specific requirements of patients with particular illnesses were dealt with effectively.
I once remember a TV programme where a businessman was brought into a hospital to make it more efficient. Well, again, maybe the financiers and the managers could learn a thing or two there, But I think business work forces should be the ones learning about teamwork from the nurses who run a busy ward.
And yet through all the pressures they’re under they find time to empathise with patients and provide emotional support to them when they need it. The staggering thing is that every last one of them appears to have these abilities. Yes, I know they’re trained, but it’s more than that, it’s genuine and you don’t need to be a genius to notice that.
I must not of course forget the doctors and paramedics too. A good doctor can set you at ease even if the information they have to deliver is not necessarily good. They have to deliver facts, clinical facts and they quickly pick up on the level they need to use to deal with each patient. They too show empathy and understanding even though their guiding principle must be medical facts.
Paramedics have the patience of saints. When they picked me up I was quite awkward in that I knew I was seriously ill, yet I didn’t want to leave my place of safety. On top of that I was suffering physical limitations on my movement that meant even sitting upright caused such discomfort that I had to lie straight back down again. They knew I needed to be in hospital of course and they carefully, patiently persuaded me to get into the ambulance after some considerable time.
Just this small six-day foray into the world of the NHS has taught me the value of what we have with the NHS. By all means criticise the upper echelons, the financiers and some of the buffoon politicians who run the thing, but the shop floor is in fine fettle. Or at least that’s the impression I got on Sheppard Ward at Musgrove Park Hospital.
The only structural change that’s really needed is more cups of tea.