New Year, New NHS Experience

When did we become so surly?I hope your New Year has been less eventful than mine…sort of through the looking glass for me as I moved to the sharp end of the NHS instead of the cloudy world of NHS Spine connectivity.

My Mum had a DVT on Boxing Day and as we sped to hospital with the blue light flashing, I had time to reflect on the service that our software supports.

So far so good. The paramedic and the ambulance crew were excellent, even though they were working under difficult circumstances, it being the “holidays” and all.  With an ambulance headlight out and no maintenance team to fix it…crew working out of their area so no directions for the hospital…skeleton staff only, so we had a team leader attending our call out (this turned out to be a good thing)…we had a smooth passage into NHS land.

The A&E was an eye-opener.  The staff were jogging along, the assessment was soon underway…in fact all surprisingly acceptable considering the regular reports in the Press of poor treatment in hospitals.

The problem I had wasn’t the staff at all…but the patients and their entourages of moaning relatives.  When did our society turn into such a surly, ungrateful bunch?

In the end, I stopped engaging with anyone but medics to avoid, as best as I could, the waves of negativity swirling around the beds and waiting areas …but how on earth does it affect the staff?

I can only assume, from the blank faces, that they cope by turning off any external emotion and therefore any ability to communicate using the interpersonal skills available to them.  No tone of voice, no pace, no smiles, no frowns, guarded eye contact…a kindly bedside manner is out of the question until they work out what you are…a pain or a patient?

…and who can blame them?

The behaviour I saw was often rude and verging on aggressive…one chap was loudly complaining that his 9 am appointment the next day meant he was going to have to get out of bed far too early…the rest were complaining about having to wait, the prescribed treatment, having to smoke outside or not getting a mobile signal…on and on…

Yes, I know people are under stress in a hospital environment, but are we now so self-absorbed that we can’t have empathy with the NHS staff? The people who are trying to help us within the constraints of the resources available to them?

The answer seems to be no, we can’t.

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