"My thoughts on the NHS"

About: Northern General Hospital / Trauma and orthopaedics

(as the patient),

This is my feedback following a bilateral total knee replacement surgery and subsequent treatment in Northern General Hospital in Huntsman ward D3 in March 2009. I have to say at the outset that I’m totally impressed by what has happened to me in less than three weeks since my surgery. My life has changed; I can walk unaided, my scars are vanishing and I’m pain free. I feel privileged for this and from a personal perspective, have absolutely no complaints whatsoever.

However, as a retired business analyst and risk manager, I saw lots of things during my stay that need attention. Essentially, the NHS is t the forefront o class war and in urgent need of the professional ‘brand protection’ management enjoyed by its private sector ‘competitors’. During my stay I saw brilliant and dedicated people working tirelessly whose professional lives could be made richer by not having to spend their entire time in ‘public’. That is, in the gaze of their patients. On the mornings when consultants’ lists were announced there was intense frenzied activity, all played out in public, from which practically no one benefited. Unlike the NHS, private sector ‘competitors’ fight their class wars in private, their brand protection demanding that they have total environmental control over their patients. That is, they put them in small rooms away from unnecessary action. This is clearly not an option for the NHS but much more could be done to control the management environment. It seems to me that the style of management reflects this “publicness” and has evolved to deliver care despite it.

In the face of infinite demand of its services, the noble claim of the NHS to “put the patient first” is easily challenged and difficult to defend. It is nevertheless undeniably true because for one part of one day I was lucky enough to be the absolute focus of attention of around ten people in Theatre for the four hours between 10.00am and 2.00pm on the 24th March 2009. No one, anywhere, could have had better treatment. With its prime resources focused on a challenge the NHS is world class, unbeatable. Back in the public domain of caring and nursing though, “putting the patient first” again becomes readily challengeable.

I found the food utterly uneatable. I can’t conceive of how a piece of iceberg lettuce and tinned tuna ever came to taste the way mine did. I am fortunate enough to be able to manage my own health and nutritional needs and I was in no way ill during my stay. Not every NHS patient is as fortunate. Recent reports show malnutrition levels rising and millions of pounds worth of food being wasted. Brand protection measures readily would readily and easily address these issues and turn what is essentially an appalling embarrassment into an extension of a brand-protected care regime.

To sum up, I am totally happy with my experience in the Northern General Hospital. But I went in fit and healthy and I’m quite active and used to taking care of myself. I’m not altogether sure how I’d feel if I’d been ill.

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